Putting Our Knowledge to the Test by Addressing Your Personal Injury Concerns
An injury in its own right can produce a lot of questions. Will you be okay? How long will it take to heal? How much will your recovery cost? No doubt as you pursue an injury claim, you’ll have even more concerns and questions. However, that’s where we come in. Come see how our extensive knowledge and dedication to helping our clients can help answer all of your legal questions…and then some.
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Can I collect damages for emotional and psychological injuries after an accident?
It's not uncommon for people who have been the victim of a defective product or involved in a car, truck, motorcycle or slip-and-fall accident to have serious physical injuries that require expensive medical treatments or time away from work, or even limit their ability to hold a job or care for themselves.
Physical Injuries Aren't the Only Kinds of Harm That Personal Injury Victims Face
Depending on the severity of the incident or the physical injuries sustained, some victims may go on to develop emotional or psychological injuries as a result. Such injuries can affect victims in many of the same ways that physical injuries can, including requiring them to seek medical treatment and take time off of work to recover.
Fortunately, just like Delaware law gives accident and personal injury victims the right to seek compensation for medical expenses—including treatment for related mental health conditions—it also allows them to pursue damages for the mental suffering itself. This type of compensation falls under the category of non-economic damages and is often referred to as “mental anguish,” a term that encompasses a wide variety of mental suffering, including depression, anxiety, grief, fear, and distress.
Consult a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
Because mental anguish is a non-quantifiable type of damage, it's value is determined by a judge or jury based on the evidence the plaintiff and his attorney have presented. This is just one of many reasons why it's important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you build a strong case.
If you sustained serious physical and mental injuries as a result of another person or entity's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for a wide range of damages. The skilled attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you understand your legal rights, as well as explore your options for compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial review of your case.
Can I handle a no-doubt liability claim on my own?
There are many personal injury cases where the plaintiff may have a difficult time proving the other party's negligence or fault, but there are some cases where the defendant is responsible for the accident without question. Known as "no-doubt" liability cases, these cases may seem simple and straightforward. However, accident victims shouldn't let the seeming simplicity of no-doubt liability cases lull them into a false sense of security and trick them into thinking they can handle the case themselves. While these cases may not have the dramatic twists and turns seen in courtroom dramas, they can require a fair amount of legal maneuvering. Additionally, there are clear benefits to having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side for these cases, and going it alone can have unintended consequences.
Determining liability can be one of the more difficult aspects of car accident personal injury claims. No-doubt liability cases differ from regular car accident claims in that the nature of the accident itself provides almost definitive proof as to who was at fault. Examples of no-doubt liability car accidents include:
- DUI accidents. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal, as these substances can impair the driver's ability to think clearly and react appropriately. If a driver causes an accident while under the influence, they will, in most cases, be considered the liable party.
- Rear-end accidents. Drivers are required to leave sufficient room between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. When a driver fails to do this and slams into the car in front of him, he will most likely be found at fault. However, there may be an exception if the driver in the first vehicle had brake or tail lights that weren't functional.
- Left-turn accidents: Also known as “T-bone” accidents, left-turn crashes occur when a motorist makes a left-hand turn before the road is clear. When this happens, it is almost always the driver who was making the left-hand turn who is at fault. However, there may be rare exceptions where the “T-boned” driver is found to be at fault if they were committing a traffic violation at the time of the accident.
Benefits of Legal Representation
Even if you have a true no-doubt liability claim, hiring a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney is crucial to the success of your case. Personal injury plaintiffs who have legal representation often receive settlements far larger than plaintiffs who chose to handle their own cases. In addition to fighting to help you win a more lucrative financial award, personal injury attorneys also help by:
- Providing valuable legal counsel
- Accurately filling out required paperwork
- Submitting completed paperwork in a timely fashion
- Handling any problems that come up during the case
Having quality legal representation also provides plaintiffs with peace of mind. After the case is tried, the court's judgment is binding. Losing plaintiffs aren't entitled to a do-over—even if they chose to represent themselves and were dissatisfied with the results.
Comparative Negligence in Delaware
Are you sure you have a true no-doubt liability case? If it turns out that you were somewhat responsible for the accident, Delaware's comparative negligence laws may come into play. Comparative negligence allows plaintiffs to file personal injury lawsuits, even if they were partially at fault for the accident that caused their injuries. It may also be used by the defense in an effort to reduce their financial obligation to the victim. If you were partially at fault for the accident, you'll need the representation of a seasoned legal professional.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in an accident—no-doubt liability or otherwise—the skilled legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Don't let your chance to take legal action slip through your fingers! Complete our online contact form today and we'll be in touch to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
What is negligence?
If another person's negligent actions led to an accident that resulted in you being injured, you may be eager to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, before you start daydreaming about how you'll spend your settlement, you should determine whether your case—and the defendant's conduct—meets the legal definition of negligence. In order for a judge or jury to agree with your assessment that the defendant was negligent, you must be able to prove the following elements of negligence: that the defendant owed you a duty of care and breached that duty in a way that resulted in you being seriously injured.
Duty of Care
Before a defendant's actions can be considered negligent, you must be able to show that the defendant owed you a “duty of care.” First, the court must recognize that a relationship exists between the two parties and that, because of that relationship, the defendant had a duty to behave a certain way toward the plaintiff. In a personal injury case, this might mean that the defendant had a duty to ensure that conditions were reasonably safe for the plaintiff. For example, all motorists owe each other a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely. Other examples of duty of care include manufacturers who have a duty of care to ensure that their products are safe for their customers, and retail stores owners who have a duty of care to maintain their property for their customers' safety.
Breach of Duty
Once you've established that a duty of care exists between yourself and the defendant, the next step is proving that said duty of care was breached by the defendant. Duty of care is breached when a defendant fails to behave reasonably, endangering the plaintiff. Examples of breached duty of care include manufacturers who sell dangerously defective products, reckless drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents, and property owners who fail to maintain their flooring or clean up spills in a reasonably timely manner—causing tenants, visitors, or customers to slip and fall.
When trying to prove negligence in personal injury cases, it's not enough to show that a duty of care existed and that said duty of care was breached. In order to be eligible to pursue compensation for your injuries, you and your legal counsel must also show that the breach of duty of care is what caused your injuries. There are two types of causation that can apply here: proximate cause and actual cause. Proximate cause means that your injuries are reasonably related to the defendant's breached duty of care, while actual cause means that, were it not for the breach of duty of care, you would not have been injured.
This particular element of negligence is extremely important in personal injury cases. Even if a defendant was negligent, the plaintiff will not receive compensation unless that negligence caused real and verifiable injuries. It's up to the plaintiff and attorney to prove the type and extent of their injuries, usually with well-documented evidence, such as medical records and bills, repair estimates for property damage, and receipts for other out-of-pocket costs. A lack of documented evidence will make negotiating a settlement extremely difficult, if not impossible. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise clients on what types of documents and evidence will be most effective in their case.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in an accident that you believe was caused by another person's careless or negligent actions, you may be able to pursue compensation for damages if you can legally prove that the defendant's negligent behavior caused your injuries. Financial awards can help personal injury victims begin rebuilding their lives after an accident. Victims can seek a financial award to compensate them for past, current, and future medical treatment for their accident-related injuries, as well as any related property damages, lost wages and more. The Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you fight for the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today to schedule a free initial case consultation.
What is a settlement and what are some of the pros and cons of accepting one?
A settlement is an official agreement that resolves a personal injury claim or lawsuit before it goes to trial, allowing both parties to avoid the potentially lengthy and somewhat risky litigation process. In the United States, the vast majority of personal injury civil lawsuits never see the inside of a courtroom and are, instead, resolved via a negotiated settlement.
During the pre-trial negotiation process, the attorneys for both parties investigate the claim and then take turns making offers, with the goal of eventually reaching a mutually agreeable solution. Settlements award financial compensation for damages, but the settlement agreement may have further stipulations, such as forbidding the plaintiff from pursuing further legal action or disclosing the conditions of the settlement, or requiring the defendant to start or discontinue a specific action or policy.
Settlements are awarded to compensate personal injury victims for a variety of damages, including past, current and future medical bills, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning ability, and pain and suffering. When deciding whether accepting an out-of-court settlement is right for you and your personal injury case, there are several pros and cons worth considering.
Settlement Pros and Cons
There's no doubt that accepting a settlement can be beneficial for personal injury victims. Accepting a settlement not only spares the plaintiff a lengthy and costly trial, it also guarantees financial compensation for accident-related damages—something that can't be guaranteed if the case is taken all the way to trial. In a courtroom setting, the judge or jury determines whether a financial award is warranted and, if so, how much money is appropriate compensation. Depending on the case, the judge or jury may offer a significant financial award, or nothing at all. Accepting a settlement eliminates the risks associated with a civil trial and ensures that the victim receives compensation for his or her accident-related damages.
However, for all its benefits, accepting a settlement can have some downsides. For example, although settlements provide a sure promise of compensation, the amount of money received in a settlement is frequently less than what might have been awarded had the case gone all the way to trial.
Additionally, if your situation is desperate and you appear so during the negotiation process, the opposing side may offer you less than what you deserve, in the hopes that you'll take it and just go away. If you can hold out for a better offer, it's almost always in a victim's best interest to do so.
Before deciding whether you should accept a settlement in your personal injury cases, there are a few important points you need to consider and discuss—preferably with a knowledgeable attorney. For example:
- If the case goes to trial, what are your chances of winning?
- What do the verdict and settlement outcomes look like in similar cases?
- How strong is your case?
- Does your case have any weaknesses?
- How much does your attorney think you could get in settlement versus at trial?
- What is the minimum amount you'll accept to resolve the case?
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you love was injured due to another person's negligence, your life may have been turned upside-down in an instant, leaving you wondering if things will ever be the same again. A financial award from the at-fault party can go a long way in helping accident victims get their lives back on track. Call the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case, including whether accepting a settlement is right for you.
For what might I be able to seek financial compensation?
Personal injury cases are often as unique as the parties involved, which makes it difficult for us to say exactly which damages a potential client could be entitled to pursue without first discussing the particulars of their situation. However, learning about common types of personal injury cases and the damages sought can provide valuable insight to accident and injury victims who are considering exploring their legal options.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases
Delaware law allows individuals who were injured by another person or entity's negligence to file a civil lawsuit, also known as a tort action, to pursue compensation for a variety of damages. Unlike a criminal case in which the government is prosecuting and a guilty verdict could mean jail or prison time, civil lawsuits are brought by individuals who seek a financial award to compensate them for harm caused by a defendant's wrongful actions. Common types of personal injury cases include:
- Auto accidents. Both common and potentially devastating, auto accidents can leave victims with a number of serious physical, mental, and emotional injuries. According to a 2014 Vital Signs Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), auto accidents sent more than 2.5 million Americans to the emergency room in 2012. Negligent actions in car accident cases may include speeding and reckless, drunk, drugged, drowsy, or distracted driving.
- Truck accidents. Presenting different challenges than other auto accidents, truck accidents are in a category of its own. The sheer size and weight of a big-rig vehicle can cause catastrophic injuries and property damage and, instead of an individual and their attorney—the accident victim may be going up against a trucking company with a team of corporate attorneys. Commercial truck drivers are susceptible to the same types of negligent driving behaviors as anyone else. Equipment failure due to improper maintenance, improper loading and distribution of the truck's contents, and trucking companies that hire unsafe drivers or encourage their drivers to skirt Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations are examples of negligence that is more specific to truck accident cases.
- Motorcycle accidents. Injuries in these cases can be devastating, as motorcyclists are largely unprotected. Motorcycle accidents can be caused by many factors, including motorists who turn left into the path of a motorcycle, fail to see the motorcycle in their blind spot, or follow the motorcyclist too closely.
- Wrongful death. When someone dies because of an accident or negligence, Delaware law allows certain surviving family members to sue for compensation that can help them cope with financial worries associated with the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one.
- Workers' compensation. Employees who are injured on the job may face a long road to recovery. A workers' compensation claim can help ensure employees are appropriately compensated for their injuries and establish a wage replacement system for the time that their injuries keep them out of work.
- Product liability. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure that the products they sell to consumers are safe. If a product can be shown to have caused injury, the manufacturer may be liable for damages.
- Slip-and-fall accidents. Property owners are required to maintain their properties so that they're reasonably safe for shoppers, tenants, or lawful guests. If this duty is breached, property owners may be liable for injuries.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Damages sought in personal injury cases can be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that represent a specific dollar amount and can be largely calculated by assessing documented bills or records, such as:
- Past or future medical bills and expenses related to the accident
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Lost wages if your injuries caused you to miss a significant amount of work
- Loss of future earning potential if your injuries force you to take a lower-paying position
Non-economic damages are those that aren't associated with a clear dollar amount and are, thus, more difficult to calculate, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Emotional pain or anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Reduced enjoyment of life
Do You Need Help Seeking Compensation for Injuries?
If you were injured in an accident, the skilled legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you explore your legal options and the types of damages to which you may be entitled. Complete our online contact form today and we'll contact you to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
How is an award or settlement determined in a personal injury case?
If you were injured in an accident, you may be facing unforeseen medical bills, and a long and painful physical, mental, and emotional recovery. Under the circumstances, it is understandable that you have questions about whether you can be compensated for your injuries and, if so, how much of a settlement offer can you expect. However, in all the years the members of our firm have worked in injury law, we've learned that personal injury cases can be as different as the parties involved, which makes it difficult to say how much you could stand to be compensated without first meeting with you to discuss your case. Fortunately, learning more about settlements and the types of damages you can seek can provide valuable insight to accident victims who seek a legal remedy.
How Is a Settlement Determined?
In personal injury cases, settlements can be determined through negotiations or, if the case goes all the way to trial, a judge or jury. The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled without either party having to set foot in a courtroom. At the beginning of the negotiation process, your attorney will work closely with you to calculate the damages to which you feel you're entitled, and will then send a demand letter to the individual or insurance company's attorney, asking for a high amount. The attorneys will go back and forth, discussing a variety of factors that can include:
- Insurance coverage
- Liability for the accident
- The severity of your injuries
- Medical prognosis and treatment
The severity of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident may play a significant role in determining the size of your settlement offer—this is true of personal injury cases settled both in and out of court. Ideally, after some back and forth, the attorney for the at-fault individual or insurance company will make a reasonable offer. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case may continue to court, where both sides will present their arguments and a judge or jury determines how much—if any—financial compensation they should award.
Attorneys, juries, and judges usually come up with settlement amounts by calculating economic and non-economic damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages, also known as special damages or out-of-pocket losses, are past and future financial losses that can be calculated by reviewing a victim's accident-related bills. Examples of economic damages include past and future medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning potential, and funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages, also called general damages, are more subjective and, thus, more difficult to calculate. Examples of non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment, or loss of reputation, consortium, or companionship.
Do You Need Help Pursing a Personal Injury Settlement?
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to seek a financial award to compensate you for your injuries. Don't let another minute pass without learning about your legal rights. The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group are at your service. Complete our online contact form today and we'll be in touch to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.
Is Financial Compensation Taxable?
Considering that individuals who were injured in accidents often struggle with a number of unexpected financial obligations, it's no wonder that one of the most common questions our attorneys receive from prospective clients is about the taxability of personal injury settlements. At the Morris James Personal Injury Group, we understand. When you're paying for accident-related medical expenses, such as doctors bills and prescription medications, the last thing you want to worry about is paying taxes on a possible financial settlement. Fortunately, most of the compensation that personal injury victims receive is not taxable. However, there are some notable exceptions to that rule. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you minimize the taxation of your settlement.
Tax Free Recovery
Money awarded to compensate a victim for bodily injuries, and related pain and suffering is usually tax free, so most of the time accident victims are not required to pay taxes on a personal injury settlement. This is because the financial settlement is intended to compensate the victim for losses caused by an injury and, as a result, is not considered “earned” income. Examples of non-taxable damages include money reserved for:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress related to a physical injury
- Attorney fees
Additionally, money paid to an accident victim to cover property damage to their vehicle usually isn't taxed, as it is also considered compensation for a loss.
While, as a general rule, personal injury settlements are not taxed, there are a few notable exceptions worth mentioning. Examples of taxable settlement amounts include compensation related to:
- A breach of contract. If a breach of contract caused your injury and breach of contract was the basis of your lawsuit, the related settlement may be taxed.
- Lost wages or lost income. If a portion of your settlement was set aside for these purposes, that money is considered taxable “earned” income.
- Interest. Some states add interest to the settlement for the time period that the case was pending. Any interest earned during that time is taxable.
- Punitive damages. Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are those that are intended to punish the defendant for wanton or reckless actions, and discourage them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are always taxable and are taxed in full.
- Emotional Distress and mental anguish. If your mental and emotional problems arose from a physical injury sustained in an accident, the compensation received may be non-taxable. However, when you receive a settlement that compensates you for mental pain and emotional suffering not related to a physical injury, that compensation can be taxed.
- Interest or profit earned from invested settlement proceeds. If you invest the proceeds of your settlement in an environment where it accrues interest or results in a profit, the interest and profit from the investment is taxable.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in an accident, you may be facing a long recovery period and a seemingly-insurmountable amount of medical debt. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you pursue the compensation you need to get your life back on track. However, with so much at stake, it's important not to go it alone. A knowledgeable and reputable attorney can walk you through each step of the personal injury process and fight to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
At the Morris James Personal Injury Group, our dedicated, driven attorneys have the negotiation and litigation experience you can count on. Whether we settle your case out of court or take it all the way to trial, our skilled legal team understands the concerns surrounding the taxability of personal injury settlements and will work with you to minimize that taxation. Complete our online contact form today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
Will I have to appear in court if I file a personal injury lawsuit?
It's not uncommon for prospective clients to ask if filing a personal injury lawsuit means that they'll have to appear in court. It's understandable; the thought of having to testify in front of a judge and jury can be intimidating—particularly for those with no prior experience in a courtroom. Fortunately, the experience is often far less overwhelming than clients expect—and far less dramatic than what they've seen on popular courtroom dramas.
Also, while every case is different, many personal injury civil lawsuits can be resolved through negotiations between the involved parties' legal representatives. Oftentimes, the defendant and their attorney will offer the plaintiff a settlement to save the time and money involved with trying the case in court. So there's a chance that appearing in court may not even be necessary in your case.
However, should your case proceed to trial, you may indeed be called to court and you may even have to give testimony. That's one of the many reasons why it's so important to have the representation of a knowledgeable and skilled attorney when pursuing legal action in a personal injury case.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in an accident, the skilled legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you fight for compensation for a wide range of damages, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. We have extensive experience negotiating fair financial settlements for our clients and are also prepared to take your case to trial, if necessary. Rest assured, if your case does go to trial, we'll be there to guide you each and every step of the way.
Reach us at any of our five Delaware law offices or complete our online contact form to schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss the details of your case. Also, for more information on the personal injury claims process, request a free copy of our eBook, Anatomy of a Personal Injury Claim.
What types of cases does your law firm handle?
While some law firms handle cases from a broad range of seemingly unrelated practice areas, the Morris James Personal Injury Group offers a more focused approach, helping those who were harmed by another party's negligent actions pursue compensation for their injuries via civil lawsuits. The skilled legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group boasts more than 80 years of combined experience in personal injury law and is adept at litigating personal injury cases, including wrongful death, auto accident, workers' compensation, dog bite, product liability, and slip-and-fall claims.
Personal injury lawsuits are a common type of civil lawsuit in Delaware. Civil lawsuits differ from criminal lawsuits in that they're brought by victims against individuals or corporations for the purpose of securing compensation for damages, rather than brought by the government against individuals for the purpose of imposing penalties for violating the law.
At the Morris James Personal Injury Group, our knowledgeable attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate legal representation that guides our clients through each and every step of the civil litigation process—from the initial filing of the complaint to its resolution.
Our law firm has extensive experience handling cases from the following personal injury practice areas:
- Wrongful death. When a loved one dies in an accident caused by another party's negligence, Delaware law allows the spouse, children, parents, or siblings of the deceased person to file a lawsuit for the purpose of securing compensation for funeral expenses, lost income and benefits, lost child or spousal support, lost household services, and mental anguish.
- Serious injuries. Even if accident victims are fortunate enough to escape with their lives, they may still suffer serious and debilitating injuries that require extensive treatment and long, grueling recovery periods. Filing a civil lawsuit allows victims to seek a financial award that can help them pay for treatments and replace wages lost due to missed work.
- Auto accidents. Being involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident can turn a person's well-ordered world completely upside down. In addition to unexpected medical bills, auto accident victims may also have to grapple with extensive property damage to their vehicle and a devastating change of lifestyle. Fortunately, Delaware law allows accident victims to pursue compensation for these and other accident-related damages.
- Dangerous products. Despite the existence of government safety regulations, a handful of defective or otherwise potentially harmful products make their way to store shelves in the United States each year. People who have been harmed by dangerous or defective pharmaceuticals, foods, food containers, childcare items, children's toys, and many other items, may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible for their injuries.
- Slip-and-fall accidents (also known as premises liability accidents). Delaware property owners have a duty to maintain their properties for the safety of the public, their tenants, or other lawful visitors. Property owners who fail to take reasonable precautions may be held liable if someone slips and falls, or is otherwise injured, due to their negligence of duty. Filing a personal injury lawsuit allows slip-and-fall accident victims to fight for the compensation to which they may be entitled.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you—or someone you love—were injured in an accident caused by another party's negligence, you may not have to bear the burden of accident-related expenses on your own. Delaware law allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit to pursue compensation for damages such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning potential, and pain and suffering related to the accident.
Contact the seasoned personal injury attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Our attorneys are eager to help you explore your legal options and are committed to working with you to obtain the financial award you deserve.
Can I sue for additional compensation if I'm not satisfied with my settlement?
Faced with mounting medical bills, immediate and long-term recovery costs, property damage, and ongoing physical pain and emotional suffering, many accident victims are eager to receive a settlement that can help them heal and get their lives back to normal. However, in personal injury cases speed can be an enemy of justice. Accepting a settlement offer too quickly, or without consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney, can result in you receiving a financial award that doesn't provide the compensation you need and deserve. Some accident victims may even assume that they can sue for additional compensation if their settlement doesn't meet their needs. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Accident victims are almost always prohibited from suing the same person or party for the same issue, even if they feel they didn't receive an adequate or appropriate settlement amount. However, there are a few notable exceptions. Read on to learn more.
The inability to sue for additional compensation is governed by a legal concept known as res judicata. Latin for “a matter judged,” res judicata states that a judgment rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction is both final and conclusive. In most cases, res judicata conclusively bars plaintiffs from bringing the same claim or demand against the same defendant a second time. This prohibition against re-litigation applies equally to both losing plaintiffs who wish to re-sue a winning defendant and winning plaintiffs who hope to re-sue a losing defendant. Res judicata is also sometimes referred to as “claim preclusion.” The fact that these cases usually can't be re-litigated makes it even more important for accident victims to ensure that they get everything right on the first go-around, and is another reason why working with an attorney who knows the ins and outs of personal injury law is essential.
Notable Exceptions to Case Settlements
While res judicata is almost always absolute, there are a few notable, if rare, exceptions. Accident victims may be able to have their case litigated a second time under these limited conditions:
- The settlement agreement and release of liability was never signed. The case—and the plaintiff's ability to continue litigation—concludes as soon as the plaintiff signs the settlement agreement and liability release. Thus, it is in the plaintiff's best interest to avoid signing any documents until they've had a chance to discuss them at length with a seasoned personal injury attorney.
- You're able to get the settlement agreement set aside. If you agree to settle with an insurance company or an individual's defense attorney, but can't agree on the terms of the settlement, you may be able to have the settlement agreement set aside if the dispute is significant.
Additionally, some accident victims are under the mistaken impression that they can have their case re-litigated if they feel that their attorney gave them bad advice. In this case, the plaintiff would have to file a claim or grievance against the attorney, but would still not be able to have their case re-opened unless, perhaps, there was a legal error so glaring that it warranted the filing of a notice of appeal.
Were You Injured in an Accident in Wilmington, DE?
If you were injured in an accident that wasn't your fault, it's important not to sign anything before speaking with an attorney. The skilled legal team with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you resolve your claim or case. To discuss the details of your case, complete our online contact form and we'll get in touch to schedule your free initial consultation. Our valued clients come to us from all cities and towns in New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County, including Camden, Clayton, Dover, Felton, Harrington, Magnolia, Smyrna, and Wyoming; New Castle County including Bear, Claymont, Hockessin, Middletown, New Castle, Newark, Pike Creek, Townsend, and Wilmington; and Sussex County including Bridgeville, Dewey Beach, Frankford, Georgetown, Greenwood, Laurel, Lewes, Milford, Millsboro, Milton, Rehoboth Beach, Seaford, and Selbyville.