It can be tricky to navigate a personal injury lawsuit alone as a claimant. The average accident victim does not know how to adequately protect his or her rights during the claims process. It can be tempting, for example, to accept the very first settlement an insurance claims adjuster offers. It is critical, however, to bring the offer to a lawyer first to see if it is fair and reasonable. Once you accept a settlement offer, even if it is unreasonably low, you cannot file a lawsuit against the same defendant for the same damages in Texas.
Once You Sign, You Agree Not to Pursue a Lawsuit
A settlement is a legally binding agreement. It states that you agree to accept the money offered in return for giving up your right to bring a lawsuit against the defendant for the same tort in the future. You will forfeit your right to file a lawsuit against the defendant for the same injuries and losses once you sign to accept a settlement. Even if your injuries worsen in the future or you realize your claim is worth more than the settlement you received, you will be unable to pursue further compensation through the court system once you accept the settlement.
Before you accept, however, during settlement negotiations, nothing is binding. You and the insurance provider can go back and forth with settlement negotiations as much as you wish before you decide to file a lawsuit. You will not forfeit the option of bringing a lawsuit until you sign to accept the defendant’s settlement offer. Once you accept, it may be impossible to change your mind. For this reason, it is important to be sure accepting a settlement is in your best interests before you proceed.
Settlement vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit in Texas
Settlements and lawsuits both have pros and cons. The right solution for you will depend on your case’s individual factors. A personal injury attorney can review your specific case and guide you toward the ideal resolution. This might be a settlement if the insurance company handles your claim fairly and offers an amount that matches your medical bills, property repairs, lost wages and other damages. Most personal injury claims reach successful settlements. A settlement can save you time and money as a claimant. Do not accept a settlement, however, until you have spoken to an attorney.
Some cases will not achieve settlements and will need to go to trial in Dallas County. Claimants with catastrophic and life-changing injuries, for example, may benefit from going to trial over accepting settlements. Other claimants may face insurance companies that are refuting liability, meaning a trial will be necessary for a judgment award. While a trial could take longer to resolve and does not guarantee positive results, a successful outcome could provide a larger award for you as a victim depending on your case.
Carefully Review Your Options With a Lawyer
Accepting a settlement might not be in your best interests if the insurance claims adjuster is not handling your case fairly. Insurance companies often try to save money by limiting payouts, diminishing claim values, unfairly denying claims and delaying payments. It often takes a lawyer’s representation to force an insurance company to offer a more reasonable settlement. Once you accept a settlement, you generally cannot take it back.
Even after you accept a settlement from one defendant, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against a different defendant. If multiple parties caused your accident and injuries, your lawyer may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for part of your damages from a different party even after you accept a settlement from the first defendant. Many accidents involve multiple defendants who share fault for damages. These claims can be complicated and require assistance from lawyers. Work with a personal injury attorney in Texas if you wish to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.