You got hurt in a car accident, thought you were okay, and quickly agreed to sign a release, thus closing your claim. Now, you’re experiencing a sudden onset of unexpected back or neck pain or another debilitating diagnosis. Can you now reopen your car accident claim?
Generally, car accident claims cannot be reopened once closed. However, like any rule, there are a few exceptions in which you may be able to reopen your accident claim. Let’s explore why you generally can’t reopen a claim and the circumstances under which you may be able to do so.
Why You Generally Can’t Reopen Car Accident Claims Once Closed
Auto insurance companies are in the business of making money, just like most other for-profit enterprises.
One of the reasons why an adjuster starts calling you incessantly following a car accident is to ascertain if you’ve suffered injuries in the crash and, if so, how severe they are. Insurance companies do this because they have a general idea of how much it may cost to treat certain injuries, and they want to gain a better perspective on their potential expenses.
Insurance companies also know that car accident injuries don’t always manifest themselves right away. They realize that it may take hours, days, or weeks for injuries a person suffers in an automobile collision to make themselves known.
Insurers figure that if they can convince you into signing a release of liability and close your case, then it will protect their financial interests should you experience a sudden onset of symptoms and visit a doctor who recommends costly treatments later on.
The tactics auto insurers use with injured Mississippi motorists post-accident are much like the ones property owners will often utilize when dealing with someone who had an incident on their premises. Their strategy to have potential victims sign releases is a risk-mitigation one. In their minds, it keeps their potential losses low.
Circumstances in Which Car Accident Claims Can Be Reopened
There are exceptions to most rules. Although individuals who sign off on insurance waivers generally cannot reopen their car accident claims, exceptions such as under the following circumstances exist:
- There was a technical problem in the settlement agreement: An instance in which an insurance company transposes settlement amounts or incorrectly documents your or others’ names may nullify the agreement, allowing you to reopen your auto accident claim.
- You never signed a release in the case: A verbal agreement on the settlement offer generally precedes the signing of a release. You may still be able to rescind any acceptance of a verbal settlement offer.
- A defendant or their insurer neglected to pay you: You might have agreed to settle a car accident case or have won it at trial and signed a release of all claims. However, several weeks may have lapsed without you receiving a settlement check. If you follow up with an insurer and they seem evasive, less-than-forthright, or it’s hard to pin them down, then you may have a valid reason to try and see if you can reopen the claim.
The latter scenario described above centers around an insurer’s bad faith actions.
What Constitutes a Bad Faith Claim?
A bad faith legal claim is one in which an insurance company either lies or treats you unfairly. Mississippi’s Bad Faith Insurance Law is described in Miss. Code § 15-1-49(1).
Some scenarios that may warrant the filing of a bad faith auto insurance claim include if an insurer:
- Misrepresents policy information, including coverage limits
- Continues to delay processing your claim by suggesting they need additional paperwork to do so
- Fails to investigate your claim thoroughly
- Stops communicating with you regarding your claim
- Bullies or pressures you into accepting a low settlement offer in your case
- Declines negotiating a settlement to your claim
Ways in which an insurer may potentially mishandle your claim or deceive you are endless. If you suspect that that’s what happened with an insurer’s handling of your case, then you may qualify to have your car accident claim reopened on bad faith insurance grounds.
Additional Circumstances That May Allow You To Pursue Compensation After a Claim’s Closure
There isn’t always just one pathway to recover compensation to cover your injury-related costs if you’re hurt in an auto accident.
- Tapping into other insurance coverage: While you may have closed a bodily injury claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company, that doesn’t necessarily preclude you from pursuing an underinsured motorist claim (if you happened to carry such coverage).
- Holding a third party liable for your injuries: There may be a situation where a motorist who struck you wasn’t the only at-fault party for the accident that resulted in your injuries, but so too was their employer or an automobile manufacturer. You may be able to file a car accident claim against a third party in the above-referenced situations.
- There is newfound damage: Generally, a release contains language that prohibits an injured party from filing any additional claims stemming from an incident, such as a car or truck accident. However, instances in which new diagnoses or damages occur may warrant requesting a reopening of the claim. Requests such as this are most successful when filed very soon after a settlement agreement is reached.
- Understanding that each motorist’s claim is different: Injured motorists who navigate the insurance claims process on their own often neglect to realize that each insurance claim is a standalone one, meaning that just because another vehicle occupant settled their claim doesn’t mean that you did.
Determining if You Can Reopen Your Car Accident Claim
You’ll often hear personal injury attorneys like ours at Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law, repeatedly say on their websites and in advertisements to consult with an attorney before talking with insurance adjusters, signing a release, or settling your case. Biloxi law firms like ours make this recommendation because we know just how challenging it can be dealing with insurance companies. We also understand how difficult it can be to meet the grounds necessary to reopen a car accident claim once closed.
Don’t risk your chances of receiving fair compensation in your Mississippi car accident case. Let one of our attorneys walk you through the auto accident claims process. And if your claim has been closed, let us advise you of your chances of having it reopened.
The monetary compensation that you recover in your Biloxi car crash case can be used to pay for medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, and other unexpected expenses. Contact Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law for a free consultation to discuss your Mississippi claim today.
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