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If your medical malpractice claim is against a single party, such as a doctor or surgeon, the answer is NO, you cannot request money after accepting an offer, in almost all cases (with one exception we’ll touch on later in this blog).
However, you may be eligible to get more money after your malpractice claim has settled if multiple parties are at fault. But instead of re-opening your settled claim, it requires filing a second, new claim against the other at-fault party or parties if they were not already listed as defendants in the initial claim.
As soon as you agree to a settlement offer from one party, that case is considered officially and permanently closed. That’s why you should carefully review any settlement offer you receive, and ideally have a lawyer look over it to ensure it’s fair to you and your family.
In a perfect world, at-fault parties and their insurance companies would pay victims in full right away for their medical malpractice expenses. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way. Instead, at-fault parties and their insurers work hard to pay victims as little as possible—at least, initially.
Their goal is for victims to accept these “lowball” settlements precisely because victims can’t come back and ask for more money later. They also know that victims are often in pain and worried about their expenses, and they may see a relatively large dollar figure and immediately accept, especially if it doesn’t require any negotiation or work on their part.
Sadly, this is a common trap. Be wary of a doctor’s office, hospital, or insurance company offering an immediate settlement after a medical malpractice injury. It usually means they know they’re potentially on the hook for a BIG payout, and they’re hoping you accept a much smaller one before you know the true cost of your injury or illness.
Many people dread car shopping because they hate negotiating with salespeople. This dread is even worse when it involves doctors, surgeons, hospitals, and insurance companies. The thought of demanding more money from an unfriendly hospital representative or a seasoned insurance adjuster can be downright chilling to many injured patients.
That’s why many medical malpractice victims reach out to lawyers to help them not only negotiate their settlements, but to build their claims in the first place. Having a lawyer on your side means you can focus on getting better instead of arguing why the settlement offer you received isn’t enough to pay for your malpractice-related expenses.
Having a lawyer on your side can also help you get more money through a jury trial. Although going to court is reserved as a last resort, it’s often a highly effective option for getting maximum compensation. In some cases, medical malpractice victims can even be awarded punitive damages when doctors, surgeons, clinics, or hospitals are extremely reckless with their care.
Tragically, some patients are failed multiple times by the healthcare system.
For example, a patient may be harmed by a negligent doctor who fails to diagnose his or her illness in time to manage it with medication or lifestyle changes. The patient is then forced to have surgery, which fails because the surgeon didn’t follow the correct protocols. And finally, the patient suffers another injury during recovery because of a negligent physical therapist.
Although this is an extreme example, these scenarios do happen, and they create the opportunity for victims to file multiple malpractice claims against multiple parties. As mentioned above, these scenarios represent rare opportunities for victims to get more money after their initial claims settle, but only by filing additional claims against additional at-fault parties.
The only time a victim can get more compensation for a single medical malpractice claim that has settled or closed is if it can be proven that the at-fault party, their legal representation, or their insurer acted in a fraudulent or coercive manner. If this happens, it means the settlement was presented or agreed upon in bad faith, and the contractual element of it may be rendered null and void.
This is rare, but it does happen. However, it can be difficult to determine if the other side acted in bad faith at any point during the legal process unless you have an experienced lawyer on your side.
If you’re thinking about filing a medical malpractice claim, it’s important to think of it as a one-and-done process. Although some victims are eligible to file additional claims or even re-open their claims based on technicalities, most aren’t. Statistically speaking, you have one chance to get the compensation you’re owed, and if you agree to a settlement that isn’t enough, you’re out of luck.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we can calculate exactly how much money you’re owed, and we won’t let the insurance company get away with paying you anything less. Contact our Ohio medical malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation.
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