REOPENING A CASE

By | April 21, 2015

I am often asked about the possibility of reopening a case.  While under some circumstances it is possible to reopen a case, it can be very difficult to do so.

There are two main ways that a case can be closed.  The first way is if you settle the case with the insurance company, and actually sign settlement documents.  These documents are usually about 3-6 pages long, and they are required to be signed in front of a notary.  It is pretty easy to know if you have gone through this process, since you should remember if you signed settlement documents and then had them notarized.

If your case has been closed by a settlement, then you have given up your right to reopen, except in two very limited situations. You can reopen your case if you can prove that there has been fraud by the insurance company, or a mutual (both parties) mistake of material fact.  Both of these situations are extremely difficult to prove.  Therefore, if your case has been closed based on a final settlement with the insurance company, chances are that you will not be able to get it reopened.

The second way a case can be closed is by Final Admission of Liability, and this is quite common.  What this means is that the insurance company has sent out a Final Admission of Liability, and you did not properly object to it within 30 days.  If you did not object to the Final Admission within 30 days, then your case has automatically closed.

Reopening a case that has been closed by a Final Admission of Liability is also not easy.  It generally requires you to prove a worsening of your condition.  That means you have to prove that since the time the case was closed, your condition has significantly worsened.  If you go into court and prove that you need surgery, that is not enough.  You must also prove that your condition has become significantly worse.  This is the difficult part, since the insurance company might agree that you need surgery, but claim that even though you need surgery your condition has not gotten any worse since the time the case was closed.

As you can see, reopening issues are always very difficult, and you can expect the insurance company to fight very hard to prevent your case from being reopened.  That is why it is always best to do whatever is necessary to keep the case open, and not let it close.  If the case does not close, then you will not have to worry about getting it reopened.

The best way you can make sure that your case will not be closed is to have a good attorney who understands the complexities of reopening, and who can make sure that the insurance company is not permitted to close your case.

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