Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024 at 6:07 pm    

When You Need To Reopen a Car Accident Claim image

When you’re involved in a car accident in Oklahoma, the claims process usually involves a straightforward series of steps: reporting the incident, assessing the damage and injuries, negotiating with insurance companies, and finally, either going to trial or reaching a settlement agreement. This settlement typically represents a final resolution between all parties involved, indicating that you accept the compensation offered in exchange for waiving the right to pursue any further legal actions related to the accident.

While this brings about a sense of closure, certain conditions may mean you need to revisit and potentially reopen your claim. Understanding when and how this is possible under Oklahoma law is crucial for protecting your rights and interests.

Discovery of New Evidence

Sometimes, critical information emerges only after the ink has dried on your settlement papers. This could be a new diagnosis related to injuries you sustained in the accident that medical professionals did not immediately identify. Oklahoma law recognizes the impact of such discoveries. If new evidence fundamentally changes the medical understanding of the accident had on your health, you might have a case for reopening the claim. This principle is grounded in the idea that settlements should be based on complete and accurate information so that you receive fair compensation for all of the damage you suffered.

For instance, if six months after you sign the settlement you are diagnosed with a chronic condition directly stemming from the accident, which was not foreseeable to either party at the time you agreed to settle, this could significantly affect your life and future medical costs. A court might consider this sufficient cause to set aside or modify the original settlement agreement.

Fraudulent Behavior

Fraud can invalidate any legal agreement, including your car accident settlement. If you discover that the other party involved in your settlement knowingly withheld information that affected the terms of the agreement or misrepresented facts about the accident, you may be able to reopen the claim. Oklahoma statutes are stringent about fraud and provide remedies to parties harmed by such deceit.

For example, if the other driver or their insurer knew about additional damage or another driver’s involvement but concealed this during settlement negotiations, this constitutes fraud. You may be able to initiate legal action to correct or nullify the previous agreement on these grounds.

Bad Faith Settlement

Similarly to instances of fraud, settlements made in bad faith are unethical and can serve as grounds for a legal challenge in Oklahoma. Bad faith can involve an insurer failing to fulfill their obligation to negotiate honestly or failing to disclose all relevant information. If you find that an insurer has settled your claim without disclosing pertinent information that would have influenced your decision, this could qualify as bad faith.

For example, if your insurer agreed to a quick settlement but had internally documented a higher claim value based on your injuries, this discrepancy suggests bad faith. Such cases often require reevaluation of the settlement, with courts sometimes awarding additional damages for the misconduct.

Third-Party Involvement

Discovering that a third party was also at fault in your accident can change the legal landscape significantly. If you did not know that this third party was also at fault during the initial settlement process, and this third party’s involvement would have led to different settlement terms, you can seek to amend or reopen your claim.

For instance, if it later comes to light that a vehicle manufacturer’s defect contributed to the accident, this new defendant might be brought into a lawsuit to account for their part in your damages. Oklahoma law allows for such adjustments to ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable.

Coercion or Errors

If someone coerced you into signing a settlement or if there are significant errors in the documentation of your agreement, the settlement might not be legally enforceable. Coercion can come in many forms, including undue pressure from an insurer or an employer (in cases where the accident involved a company vehicle). Errors might include incorrect details about the insurance coverage or the parties involved.

Such issues can render a settlement agreement void. In cases of coercion, proving that you entered into the agreement under duress can lead to its cancellation. Similarly, clerical errors that fundamentally change the terms or the understanding of an agreement can also be grounds for reopening a claim.

What to Do If You Think Your Case Needs Reopening

When You Need To Reopen a Car Accident Claim image 2If you identify with any of the scenarios mentioned, it’s crucial to act swiftly. Oklahoma law sets specific time limits on how long you can challenge a settlement after discovering such problems. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney experienced in car accident claims can provide insight and guidance on how you should proceed.

An attorney can help review the original settlement agreement, investigate the potential for fraud or bad faith, gather new evidence, and represent your interests in court or settlement negotiations. Remember, your peace of mind and financial stability are paramount. Ensuring that your settlement truly compensates you for your losses is not just a legal matter; it’s a necessary step toward your recovery and future security.

Contact Abel Law Firm Today

If you’re rethinking your car accident settlement due to new evidence, you suspect fraud, or any of the other valid reasons discussed above, don’t hesitate to take action. At Abel Law Firm, we bring over 150 years of combined legal experience. Our team offers the proven legal skills needed to achieve the results you deserve.

Whether it’s revisiting and challenging an unfair settlement agreement, or pursuing a third party, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Don’t let doubts about your settlement linger. Visit us online or call us at (405) 239-7046; we’re ready to help you secure the compensation you truly need and deserve.

Voted Oklahoma's Best Personal Injury Law Firm
The Journal Record 2023 Reader Rankings - Top Winner - Abel Law Firm - Best Peronal Injury Law Firm
The Journal Record 2023 Reader Rankings - Top Winner - Abel Law Firm - Best Peronal Injury Law Firm

Oklahomans across the state have recognized the Abel Law Firm's unique heritage as a statewide institution. Founded by Ed Abel, and today led by his son, Luke Abel, our personal injury law firm has become synonymous with empathy, compassion, and the highest professional performance serving our neighbors. Our family has sought to leave a profound impact upon the State of Oklahoma. We appreciate that former Governor Mary Fallin recognized that dedication when she declared May 1st "Ed Abel Day."

To be named Oklahoma's Best Personal Injury Law Firm is humbling. We are grateful to have won this prestigious honor. We work every day to earn the trust of those we serve: Oklahoma families who are facing some of the most difficulty days of their lives due to the negligence of others. It is our intention and resolve to continue to be deserving of the faith Oklahomans have placed in our family's law firm. Thank you!

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