Generally, the answer to this question is very simple. No. However, like with most rules, there are exceptions. You can still be sued if you are found to be an additional at-fault party after the victim has already accepted a settlement offer. These cases can get very complicated. You will need an experienced accident lawyer to represent your interests in a lawsuit of this nature.
There is another possible exception to the rule. You could be sued after an accident if you were found to have acted fraudulently. This is incredibly rare as it would require your attorney to be complicit in your actions. So, while this can happen, as long as you don’t actively try to cheat the system, you will be safe from this sort of lawsuit.
When You Are Safe From Legal Action
Typically, once a plaintiff has accepted a settlement, you are released from all liability. Legal action can no longer be taken against you, even if the plaintiff later discovers that their accident claim was worth more.
What Are the Steps of an Accident Lawsuit?
If you are sued for damages following an accident, the most important thing to do to protect yourself is hiring an experienced lawyer. An attorney will represent your interests throughout every stage of the lawsuit and try to reach a settlement agreement with the plaintiff that won’t ruin you financially.
When hiring a lawyer, there are a few important questions to consider, like:
- How much does the personal injury lawyer charge?
- Is their fee contingency based?
- Do you feel comfortable with the lawyer?
- Do they have a proven track record?
After a plaintiff and their lawyer have gathered evidence from the scene and spoken to witnesses and experts regarding the accident, you will be served with a lawsuit. If you know that it is coming, it is best to hire an attorney early. That way, they can begin their own investigation, and you will not be caught behind once you get served.
Once your lawyer has had time to investigate the accident, the two sides will share documents and evidence in a stage known as discovery. This stage allows for each side to prepare their case to fight the claims that the other side is likely to make.
After discovery, depositions will be given. A deposition is a sworn testimony given by a witness or expert with information pertaining to the case at hand.
Next, the two sides will get together with a third party trained in negotiations to hopefully work out a settlement agreement. While both legal teams will be attempting to do this throughout every step of the process, often, having an impartial party around to help work out a compromise is the missing ingredient.
Most accident cases are settled before they go to trial, as it is usually in everyone’s best interest to do so. Even if one party feels they have a strong case, you never know what will happen when 12 strangers get together to decide your fate. Most people don’t want to leave it up to chance and would rather take a compromise than risk losing in court.
Even for the party that wins, the extra costs in legal fees and time are often not worth carrying a case all the way to trial. Most people will want to settle a personal injury case as quickly as possible so that they can get on with their lives.
If the court finds against you, then you have the right to an appeal. Of course, this means spending even more time and money. If your lawyer does not feel the odds of the ruling being overturned are very high, they will likely advise you against this course of action.
After being involved in an accident, everybody just wants to move on with their lives and for things to go back to normal. Fortunately, with most cases settling out of court, there is a decent chance that you won’t have to wait too long for this to happen. Knowing that, in most cases, you are safe from further legal action once a settlement agreement has been signed can give you the peace of mind that this nightmare truly is over.