According to Arizona Health Status and Vital Statistics, an average of 2.4 million visits are made to emergency rooms in the state each year. Injuries account for nearly 25 percent of all emergency room visits in Arizona. With the cost of medical care rising, a serious accident can put a tremendous financial burden on a family. A personal injury settlement can provide much needed relief.
You may be wondering: Can I renegotiate my personal injury settlement after it has been finalized? The short answer is “no”—though there is a limited exception. Within this article, our Yuma personal injury attorney explains the key things to understand about your right—or more importantly, lack thereof—to renegotiate a finalized personal injury settlement in Arizona.
The Rule: You Cannot Renegotiate a Personal Injury Settlement that has Been Finalized
It is generally not possible to renegotiate a personal injury settlement after it has already been finalized in Arizona. Once a settlement has been reached and accepted by both parties, it is considered a binding agreement. As part of your personal injury settlement agreement, the contract will likely have language related to a “release of claims.” By agreeing to accept the payout you are effectively releasing the defendant (and insurer) from any further liability.
A Note on Workers’ Compensation: Workers’ comp claims are different. A workers’ compensation claim is not a negligence claim. It is a no-fault claim filed through a special process. In Arizona, you can file a petition to reopen a workers’ comp claim in certain circumstances. In general, an injured worker must prove that they need additional medical treatment related to their original injury.
There is a Very Narrow Exception for Fraud or Other Bad Faith Conduct
While you should always presume that your personal injury settlement is “final”—meaning it cannot be renegotiated once it is signed—you should know that there are some narrow exceptions to the rule in Arizona.
One exception is if the settlement was obtained through fraud or misrepresentation. If the other party made false statements or concealed information in order to obtain the settlement, you may be able to challenge the agreement in court. Alternatively, if an insurance company used bad faith settlement practices, you may have a further legal claim.
It must be emphasized that these exceptions are a very limited remedy. If you have questions about reopening a personal injury settlement on the grounds that the other party engaged in fraud or bad faith settlement practices, contact an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer right away.
Make Sure Your Personal Injury Settlement Provides Full and Fair Compensation
With an understanding that a finalized personal injury settlement almost always cannot be renegotiated in Arizona, it is imperative that you get your settlement right the first time. Do not agree to a settlement unless it provides full and fair compensation for your damages. You may be entitled to pursue damages for the following types of losses:
- Economic Damages: Economic damages are those that can be tied to a tangible, out-of-pocket loss. Some of the most notable examples of economic damages in personal injury claims include property damage, emergency medical treatment, hospital bills, lost wages, and loss of earning potential. Make sure that your economic losses related to your accident are well-documented.
- Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are damages that do not have a tangible loss. Examples of non-economic damages in a personal injury settlement include pain and suffering, mental distress, and permanent disability or disfigurement. Non-economic damages can be more challenging to recover. Insurance companies invariably try to undervalue personal injury damages.
Of course, defendants and insurers are not eager to pay out the maximum settlement amount to injured victims and their families. They want to resolve personal injury cases for less. A top-rated Arizona personal injury lawyer can help you build a compelling and well-supported claim that puts you in the very best position to secure the greatest possible personal injury settlement.
Contact Our Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers Today
At The Karnas Law Firm, our Arizona personal injury attorneys are committed to delivering superior legal representation to victims and families. We fight tirelessly to help injured victims secure the full and fair financial compensation that they rightfully deserve. Give us a call at 602-402-5207 or send us a direct message for a no cost, no commitment case review. From our legal offices in Tucson, Phoenix, and Yuma, we represent injured victims throughout Arizona.
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