Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: Can a Medical Malpractice Case Be Reopened After a Settlement?
Patients trust medical professionals with their livelihood and should receive proper care. The “medical standard of care” considers experience and skills regarding similar procedures. However, that standard is not always met, and patients can be irreversibly injured. When that happens, there are laws to protect victims. If you or one of your loved ones is a victim of medical negligence, it’s imperative to get professional advice from a medical malpractice lawyer.
A lawyer or insurance company representing a healthcare professional or institution in a malpractice lawsuit will usually try to settle the case before going to court. While this is sometimes beneficial for the plaintiff because they can access their compensation faster, the settlement offer will often not be enough to cover continued treatments and future loss of income.
After signing a settlement release, you cannot reopen your case. If your treatment is more expensive than what you settled for, you will have to pay for those expenses out of pocket. It also means that if you cannot return to work for longer than expected, you will not be compensated for that loss of income. There are, however, exceptional circumstances in which you can ask the court to “relief a judgment.” These include:
You could ask the court to reopen the case if you signed a settlement release that included an error (for example, a wrong amount or payment date). However, the only thing you’ll be able to change is the error itself.
If you and your lawyer find new evidence regarding your case and can prove that you couldn’t reasonably access such evidence before signing the settlement release, you might have grounds to reopen the case. It’s important to understand that it’s improbable to have a case reopened, even when you discover future injuries and damages. To go this route, you need help from a top Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer.
If you can prove that the defendant did not act in good faith and cheated to convince you to accept the settlement, you can ask the court to reopen the case.
Finally, you can ask the court to reopen your case if the defendant does not honor their responsibilities (they don’t pay the total amount or the payment takes longer than agreed).
The statute of limitations for personal injury in Maryland is five years from the injury or three years from when the injury is discovered. This time allows the victim to recover and understand the full extent of the damages. Avoid being pressured by insurance adjusters or lawyers into signing a settlement offer by asking them to speak to your lawyer.
Your attorney should always review a settlement offer before you sign. Remember that insurance adjusters usually try to protect the insurer’s economic interests by offering you a low-ball compensation that won’t cover your entire treatment and losses. A good settlement offer includes:
- Your present and future medical expenses, including medication and special equipment
- Loss of income, including your capacity for future earning
- Pain and suffering and emotional damages
As stated above, initial offers are seldom enough to cover your losses. You and your lawyer should discuss an amount you consider fair and make a counteroffer. While negotiations may take time, your chances of fair compensation can significantly increase by waiting.
Accepting a settlement can be beneficial for both parties. As a victim of medical malpractice, receiving settlement payment can help you move on and get your compensation money faster. It’s also important to consider your lawyer’s opinion regarding your chance to win a trial. If the final settlement offer by the defendant is not enough to cover your losses, or if an insurance company denies your claim, you need to take your case to court.
To win a medical negligence case, you need someone familiar with the medical branch of the law. You must hire someone who understands Maryland’s procedural rules regarding medical malpractice cases and has a robust network of medical professionals who can certify your claims. The best way to verify that a lawyer is a good fit for your case is to book a few consultations and ask many questions about their background, qualifications, and track record of success in similar circumstances.
Injuries resulting from medical neglect can lifelong affect a patient’s life. By law, you are entitled to compensation, at least enough to pay for all your expenses and losses. Hiring an experienced medical lawyer can help you protect your rights.