How to Successfully Reopen a Car Accident Claim_ a Legal Perspective

When someone causes a car crash in Chicago, their insurance is responsible for compensating the people they injured. Injured parties can file insurance claims with the responsible party’s insurer to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and related losses.

When you file such a claim, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your case. Their job is to determine whether their insured was at fault and, if so, the full extent of the insurance company’s liability.

The claims adjuster might make you feel you need to accept a settlement offer fast. They will likely offer you a low amount at first, hoping you’ll be desperate enough to take it. Perhaps you’ve accepted a settlement, only to discover your claim is worth more.

Is reopening a car accident claim in Illinois an option in these circumstances? Usually, no, but there are exceptions in which adjusting closed accident claims may be possible.

Reopen Insurance Claim Guide: Car Claim Reevaluation Tips to Keep in Mind

Reopening a car accident claim is very difficult. Thus, it’s critical to thoroughly review all settlement offers before signing anything. It’s much easier to negotiate for a fair settlement than to reopen a claim that you’ve resolved.

Check for a Release

When you agree to a settlement offer, you must typically sign a release. This is a legal contract that releases the insured from any additional liability for the accident that is the subject of the settlement. By signing the release, you are officially stating the insurance company owes you no more money.

Check for a release before signing settlement documents. You can’t ask the insurance company not to include the release—it’s highly unlikely they’d honor such a request. However, checking the terms of the release can help you decide if you’re ready to accept a settlement.

If you’ve already accepted a settlement, it’s worth rechecking the settlement documents. The odds are good that you had to sign a release. However, the terms of the release might allow for adjustment of a settlement in rare scenarios. Review the settlement agreement language with a Chicago car accident attorney if you don’t fully understand it.

Argue That the Insurance Company Acted in Bad Faith

Illinois law requires insurance companies to act in “good faith” when handling claims. You may be able to reopen a claim if you can show a court that an insurer acted in bad faith.

Examples of ways in which an insurer might act in bad faith when settling a car accident claim include:

  • Failing to thoroughly investigate the accident – An insurer should investigate a claim to determine whether the insured is at fault. Their investigation can also determine the degree of fault that should be assigned to every party involved in the accident. An insurance company may not have acted in good faith if a claims adjuster’s investigation wasn’t thorough.
  • Improperly disputing the value of your losses – A claims adjuster may know you have minimal experience seeking compensation from an insurance company. They might take advantage of your lack of experience during negotiations. An insurance company acts in bad faith when this happens.
  • Denying a claim improperly – Sometimes, an insurance company won’t just lowball a claimant. Some insurers refuse to pay claims altogether. In some instances, they are right to do so. However, an insurer may deny your claim by falsely arguing that the liable party isn’t at fault. You can appeal the denial if you believe the insurer denied your claim in bad faith.
  • Misrepresenting policy provisions – The language of an insurance policy can be opaque and complex. A claims adjuster might try to convince you a policy doesn’t cover your situation. Perhaps they’re misrepresenting the nature of certain provisions. Doing so is another way in which an insurer may act in bad faith.
  • Coercing you – Knowing your rights when negotiating with an insurance company is vital. A claims adjuster might convince you to accept a settlement offer by implying that it will be the last or best offer they’ll give you, so you had better take it. Reopening a closed accident claim may be possible if you can show an insurer unreasonably coerced you into accepting an offer.

You’ll need to gather evidence of bad faith practices to reopen a car accident claim. However, if an insurer genuinely acted in bad faith, adjusting a claim may be an option.

Consider Filing Separate Claims

a man holding a clipboard next to a red car reopening a car accident claim

Adjusting closed accident claims is a challenge. It also might not be the only way to receive more money after accepting a settlement.

Did you sustain injuries in a motor vehicle accident involving numerous parties? If so, multiple parties may have played a role in the collision. That means you could file multiple claims. Even if you accepted a lowball offer, you could file a separate claim with another insurance company. This is an option if you can provide evidence showing another party is also at fault for causing your injuries.

Learn from your previous mistakes when negotiating with a new insurance company. You might be less likely to accept an unreasonably low offer if you’ve already made such an error.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

Sorting through your options after realizing you’ve accepted a lowball offer can be confusing. This isn’t a process you have to navigate alone. You should get the help of a Chicago car accident lawyer. At JJ Legal, we may be able to help. If you haven’t already accepted a settlement, we’ll fight for what you deserve.

If you’ve already accepted an offer and wish to reopen your claim, we could review your case to determine whether that is possible, and if an insurance company acted in bad faith, we could help you gather the evidence you need to prove it. Additionally, our team could help you identify other at-fault parties so you can submit additional claims.

The best way to learn more about your options is to discuss your case with a legal professional. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at 312-200-2000 for a free case review.

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