When you resolve your personal injury case, you might wonder if that’s the end of the story. You might want the peace of mind of knowing that the decision in your case is final.
On the other hand, you may want to reopen your personal injury claim if you have second thoughts about the settlement or if new evidence emerges. Can you and your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer reopen an injury case? Here’s what you need to know.
Can a Personal Injury Case Be Reopened?
In most cases, you cannot reopen a personal injury case. When you settle a personal injury case by agreement, you should assume that the settlement is final. There are rare circumstances where you may reopen a personal injury case where the other side doesn’t abide by the terms of the agreement, or there’s a mutual mistake in the agreement. However, most personal injury settlements and verdicts are final.
When Can You Reopen a Personal Injury Case?
You can’t reopen the settlement just because you have second thoughts about it. Even if you walk out of mediation and immediately regret entering into the agreement, the court will still uphold it. However, you can reopen the settlement if the other side doesn’t honor the terms of the agreement or if there’s a mutual mistake.
For example, say the parties agree to settle the lawsuit for $10,000. However, when they draft the paperwork, the attorneys mistakenly write $1,000 instead. In this case, you may seek to have the mistake corrected or reopen the personal injury case.
In another example, say the parties agree to settle the lawsuit for $10,000. The responsible party is supposed to pay the judgment within seven days. They never pay the judgment. They offer vague excuses, and they breach the settlement agreement. You may take measures to enforce the agreement or reopen the case.
Personal Injury Settlements and Release of Claim Documents
When you reach an injury settlement, you sign a settlement agreement along with a release of claims form. A release of claims form is a document that gives up your legal right to file or pursue a lawsuit in exchange for receiving the settlement. If you sign a release of claims, your case ends as soon as both parties fulfill the terms of the settlement.
Steps to Reopen a Personal Injury Settlement
The steps to reopen the settlement depend on where you’re at in the case when the settlement occurs. If you settled informally with the other side, you might need to file a legal claim to reopen the case. However, you need to overcome the fact that you already reached an initial agreement in the case and signed a release of claims.
If you’ve already opened an injury lawsuit, you need to make a motion to the court. You might make a motion to set aside a judgment, motion for a new trial or appeal a trial verdict. The correct course of action depends on the settlement that you have in your case, the stage of the case, and what you hope to accomplish by reopening the case.
Setting Aside a Settlement or Judgment in Nevada
If you’re looking to set aside a judgment in an active Nevada case, you may rely on Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 60(b). The rule allows for relief from judgment in an existing Nevada lawsuit. For the court to grant your motion to set aside the judgment, you must meet one of the legal grounds for relief.
The grounds for relief from a judgment in the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 60(b) are:
- Mistake – a clerical error where the judgment doesn’t reflect the actual wishes of the parties or the decision of the jury
- Newly discovered evidence – evidence that you couldn’t reasonably have discovered before
- Fraud – the other side doesn’t settle the case in good faith or otherwise takes efforts to cheat you out of the judgment
- Moot judgment – The judgment is moot because it has been reversed or vacated
Reopening a Personal Injury Case Because of Newly Discovered Evidence
Even though newly discovered evidence can be grounds to reverse a judgment, reopening a personal injury case based on new evidence is rare. Future injuries and damages are typically not grounds to reopen a judgment. That’s because, in a personal injury case, the parties are aware that medical injuries are often speculative.
You might not know how long it’s going to take to recover from your injuries. You might not even know the full extent of your injuries. However, you must work carefully to determine what your injuries and medical needs are likely to be in the future. The future prognosis for your injuries should be calculated and included in your claim. It’s very difficult, but not impossible, to reopen a personal injury case for newly discovered evidence. Your attorney can help you understand if you meet one of the rare exceptions to reopen the case because of newly discovered evidence.
How To Avoid Lawsuit Settlement Regret
The best way to avoid lawsuit regret is to carefully consider all of the aspects of the case before you agree to enter into a settlement. You should have clear information about the approximate value of the case including future damages if your injuries are ongoing.
Complex legal issues that impact the likelihood of success at trial should also be a part of your consideration. Understanding all of the issues at play is an integral part of deciding whether to settle your claim. In other words, you need to make an informed decision about whether to enter into the settlement or proceed to trial.
What Are My Options If I’m Unhappy With My Injury Settlement?
If you have questions about your injury settlement, our attorneys can help. The attorneys at Adam S. Kutner & Associates can help you determine whether you qualify to reopen your personal injury case. If you haven’t yet reached a settlement in your case, we can help you examine the entire situation carefully in ordered to make wise decisions about your case. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.