Did the adjuster show up at your house just a few days after the crash and get you to sign a release in exchange for a couple hundred dollars? Are you now experiencing more pain and want to seek medical treatment, but don’t know how you’re going to pay for it? Do you want to “undo” the settlement of your Virginia auto accident case?
Dirty Adjuster Tactics
Always remember that the insurance adjuster is not your friend. The first adjuster to handle your case is certainly not your friend. Sure, he might sound like a nice guy and it might seem like he’s on your side when he offers to drive over to your house, check out the damage to your car and pay for your initial hospital visit (and give you $400 on top of that!), but remember that he works for the insurance company. His job is to get your case settled as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible.
In exchange for the settlement, he’s going to ask you to sign a release. This release is a legal document that forever waives your right to come back to his company or to the driver who hit you and ask for more money. If you sign the release and later discover (even a week later) that you have a serious or even permanent injury, you can never undo the settlement and get more money. If you were to sue the driver in court, the driver would have an absolute defense to the lawsuit just by holding up the release.
Car insurance companies know that you are particularly vulnerable in the first few days after the crash and they will send out adjusters to offer to pay some of your medical bills and give you some money on top of that in order to get the claim taken care of. This is especially true in cases where there isn’t an awful lot of damage to the car.
Can I Take It Back?
So what happens a couple of days after you sign the settlement papers and you begin to feel a pain in your neck, back or shoulder? Or, what happens when you receive a bill from the x-ray company at the hospital that you didn’t know about (if you’ve never been in an accident before, maybe you didn’t know that you might get 3 or 4 bills from different entities as a result of just one visit.).
In most cases, the answer is “too bad.” You cannot undo your settlement.
There is one BIG statutory exception in Virginia, though. Under Virginia law, if you settle your personal injury claim within thirty days of the incident (without using a lawyer), you have until midnight on the third business day after signing the release to rescind your acceptance of the offer. This rescission must be made in writing and you also have to return the check. This law is codified in Virginia Code 8.01-425.1. This law applies to all kinds of Virginia personal injuries, including: auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, trucking accidents and dog bites.
Have You Made This Mistake?
If you find yourself in a position where you want to rescind your settlement, you should get to a Virginia personal injury lawyer immediately. You need to make sure that your rescission of the settlement is in line with the statute that allows you to undo the settlement.
Our Virginia car accident lawyer, David Marks is available to help you rescind your settlement. We are located right next to the Courthouse in Fairfax. Please give us a call at 703-385-1100 and put us to work for you.