Five Things To Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements In St. Petersburg, FL

If you are injured in a car accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering through a settlement agreement. However, this agreement may contain key terms and provisions that affect your rights. You should be aware of these potential consequences so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to accept it. Here are five things to know about car accident settlement agreements in St. Petersburg, FL: 

1. Settlement Agreements Are Binding Contracts

1. Settlement Agreements Are Binding Contracts

A settlement agreement is a binding contract. Both parties involved in the accident typically sign the agreement. The victim agrees to drop their legal claims in exchange for a certain amount of money. 

Typically, the other party states that they are not accepting any responsibility for the accident. These agreements usually state that the victim is giving up certain rights. Additionally, settlement agreements often contain confidentiality clauses, which require the parties not to disclose the details of the accident and the agreement. 

Because the agreement is binding, either party can take legal action against the other if they do not hold up their part of the agreement. However, the agreement may limit the type of legal action that the parties can take, such as requiring arbitration rather than allowing for a case to be filed in court. 

Settlement agreements are typically written in favor of the party presenting them, which is often the insurance company. For this reason, you might want to consider having a lawyer review any agreement before you sign it and forfeit certain rights. A lawyer can also prepare settlement agreements or negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf. 

2. Settlement Agreements Are Final 

The most important thing to understand about settlement agreements is that they are final. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you cannot usually go back and rescind it. You are stuck with the terms – for better or worse. 

Here’s how this could work in real life: You are involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence. You suffered whiplash and received treatment for it. You accept $50,000 for the claim and sign a settlement agreement. However, later, you discover you have undiagnosed nerve damage, you incur additional medical expenses, and you have to switch to a lower-paying job. You contact the insurance company to cover these additional losses, but they refuse to cover them, so you’re stuck with them. 

This scenario is common, which is why it is so crucial to work with an experienced car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer can work with your medical providers to ensure that all of your accident-related injuries are properly diagnosed. They can also wait to settle your claim until you have reached maximum medical improvement, which is the point where you have recovered as much as your treating physician can expect. This is also when your lawyer can better determine the long-term impact of your injuries. At this point, your attorney can negotiate for more money to help compensate you. 

It is critical for accident victims to know that settlement agreements can apply to all of the injuries they sustained in an accident, including those that they are not even aware of. This is because the settlement agreement might contain language such as, “The claimant gives up all claims relating to all injuries and other damages arising from or relating to the car accident.” Therefore, if you are later diagnosed with a condition stemming from the accident and have already signed the settlement agreement, you might not be able to go back and request additional compensation for your damages. 

Subject to the language above, the settlement agreement might also make you forfeit the right to pursue other legal claims related to the accident. This is because the defendant or insurance company might demand that the victim demand a release to cover all legal claims against the defendant, even if you never asserted these claims against the defendant

For example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident. You settle the claim, not knowing that the other driver was drunk at the time of the accident. You later learn about this and that you could have sued the driver and pursued punitive damages against them. However, because you signed a release of all claims against them, you have forfeited this right. 

5. Settlement Agreements Can Cover Other Parties

Settlement agreements might also cover other parties, including those who you didn’t even know you could sue. For example, the settlement agreement might state that you are releasing all potential defendants from liability. This could mean when you sign a settlement agreement, you forfeit the right to pursue a claim against a bar for overserving a drunk driver or a manufacturer who made a defective product that contributed to the accident occurring. 

For these reasons, it is important to carefully review any settlement agreement before you sign it. You will also want to review any changes that are made to the agreement so you know that you are signing the most recent version of the agreement. Carefully consider the rights you are giving up before signing on the bottom line. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer for help reviewing or negotiating the agreement. 

Our St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help With Settlement Agreements and Accident Claims

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should not have to face any financial difficulty or pay for someone else’s mistake. An experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney from Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers can protect your rights. We can ensure you file your claim within the relevant statute of limitations and negotiate for maximum compensation. Call us today at (727) 349-1728 to learn more about how we can help throughout the claims process.