Can I reopen a personal injury case? 14 Answers as of November 29, 2012

In July of 2007, at the age of 13, I was shot in the jaw at close range with a 12 gauge shot gun. In the settlement I received 100,000. Medicaid took 33, my lawyers took 33, and I was left with about 33. The boy received 18 months in juvy and I’m forced to carry these scars. I'm still going through surgeries. However, this December I will turn 19 and my Medicaid runs out so I will not be able to continue my needed surgeries. The years have passed and I've come to realize that the ones who had hands on my case only believed my life to be worth 33,000. I find that rather insulting and believe I should have received more. Is there any way I can reopen my case?

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Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
Do you realize that if the incident occurred due to an intentional act, then there would be no insurance coverage, and so you probably would have gotten nothing. I would bet that the settlement was a compromise. Now to reopen the case, you would have to pay the insurance company back the $100K, and then perhaps the judge would reopen the case. When I have tried it in the past, the judges would not let it happen. When a case gets settled, that is IT. Now on a personal note, you are experiencing the flaw in our system. If you had an arm amputated, and you got a check for $100,000,000, then despite getting a whole bunch of money, you still would only have one arm. The money is merely "damage control." Everything you say is true, but there is nothing more you can do about it. I suggest that you do your best to MOVE ON. If you dwell on the past, you only add to your losses, but you do not get compensated any further.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/29/2012
Richard E. Damon, PC | Richard E. Damon
If the court approved a settlement, referred to as a "minor's compromise," then the matter is closed. Did your attorney really receive 33%? The usual percentage in a minor's case is 25%, so you were overcharged.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/29/2012
Maurice L. Abarr  Lawyer, Inc.
Maurice L. Abarr Lawyer, Inc. | Maurice L. Abarr
Based on the info provided, you would probably need to sue non-settling third parties (e.g., gin manufacturer) to obtain further recovery.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/28/2012
The Carlile Law Firm, LLP
The Carlile Law Firm, LLP | D. Scott Carlile
Maybe. Since you were a minor at the time of the accident, your statute of limitations does not run until the date of the accident at age 20 (minority plus 2 years). Your problem will most likely be that your parent or guardian signed a settlement release on your behalf agreeing to never sue again if they paid you the settlement (in your case 100K). If the court appointed a guardian ad litem to review the settlement then you are probably stuck with the deal. You could bring a suit against the guardian ad litem for legal malpractice but it would be a long shot. If there was no ad litem appointed to review the reasonableness of the settlement, then you have a better shot to unwind the previous deal. Either way the odds are not in your favor.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 11/28/2012
Law Offices of Stanley S. Lopata
Law Offices of Stanley S. Lopata | Stan Lopata
It depends. In general, you have the right to repudiate your settlement made while you were a minor. If your case was in California the money that you were to receive should have been approved by a judge in an action called a "minor's compromise" and your money should have been deposited into an interest bearing account. A judge would have approved the settlement based on your medical expenses and the possibility that you would require additional surgery. The settlement of $100K may have been the full amount of the insurance policy available.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/26/2012
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    It maybe that the full policy was $100,000 and there was no more to get. In any event assuming you signed a release the case is permanently over.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Hirsch, Closson, McMillan & Schroeder, APLC
    Hirsch, Closson, McMillan & Schroeder, APLC | Paul Schroeder
    In a word, no. I suggest buying health insurance, either through work or school.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Magnuson Lowell P.S.
    Magnuson Lowell P.S. | Richard S. Lowell
    Probably not. I am going to assume that the $100,000 settlement was formally approved by the Court. Any settlement for a minor must be reviewed and approved by a court. If it was, you probably have no recourse. The case was settled and, presumably, following court approval, someone was authorized by the court to sign a release on your behalf. If a release was not signed on your behalf; or if there was never a court order approving the settlement, you may have an ability to re-open the case.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Frank Law Group, P.C.
    Frank Law Group, P.C. | Brett E. Rosenthal
    As long as there was a Minor's Compromise petition filed and approved by the court unfortunately cannot reopen as the court approved and signed off on the settlement, which included all known and potentially unknown injuries or needed procedures. The other potential issue was the policy limit of the at fault party may have only been $100,000 and as result even if you could reopen won't be able to get any more, but that is something I would be fairly sure that your prior counsel probably verified before agreeing to that amount.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    There is no way for the case to be reopened, since you or your guardian signed off on the settlement.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    I do not see how because if you were a juvenile, undoubtedly your parents signed a release and a judge had to sign off on it.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
    If the court approved the settlement, you probably can't reopen the case. Without more information, I can't advise you on what steps to take, but it sounds like you had an attorney- call him and ask the question directly.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Probably not. The settlement may have been the maximum insurance limit available, so it was never intended to be full compensation. It was all there was. Probably the homeowner's policy of the gun owner who let the Juvy have access to the gun.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 11/26/2012
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    No, what's done is done. I think it very likely that there was "only" $100,000 (insurance money) available. Most of the time in this kind of case there is no insurance available. In NY, and probably others, a judge had to approve the settlement as well.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/26/2012
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