It’s generally advisable for car accident victims to avoid accepting an early settlement offer from the at-fault plaintiff’s insurer, particularly before it is reviewed by an experienced injury attorney. The reason is by so doing, you may be required to sign a release through which you agree not to pursue any further claim of damages – no matter how much greater your damages are compared to what you agreed to accept initially.
Recently, the South Dakota Supreme Court reversed a summary judgment in favor of a defendant who sought enforcement of a release of liability from all claims with a settlement of $3,000. Problem was, plaintiff’s actual medical bills along amounted to $400,000. Although the trial court granted summary judgment on the basis of that early settlement release form, the state supreme court found there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether consent was obtained with undue influence and also whether the release actually precluded plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff hasn’t exactly won the case, but she will get a shot at taking the matter to trial.
According to court records, the 55-year-old plaintiff was a passenger in her boyfriend’s vehicle when the vehicle was rear-ended by defendant motorist. Law enforcement cited plaintiff’s boyfriend, indicating he committed unsafe lane use for using a through-traffic lane rather than the left turn lane to turn left. However, they also cited defendant for careless driving (driving too closely). Defendant later pleaded guilty in traffic court to that charge. Continue reading →