Can You Rescind A Settlement Agreement Reached Before Retention of Meeting with A Personal Injury Lawyer?

It is an unfortunate reality of the personal injury landscape that insurance companies often resort to overzealous, at best, and unscrupulous, tactics to procure an advantageous settlement from injured parties prior to their retention of counsel from a personal injury lawyer in Arlington, VA. Why do insurance companies do this?  In short- because it works.  Unrepresented parties routinely resolve cases for a mere fraction of their fair value, largely because they are often misled by seemingly “friendly” insurance representatives.  Insurance companies are aware that injured parties are often not fully informed of the full extent of their legal rights, and are often in a precarious physical, mental, or economic state that renders them uniquely susceptible to signing away their rights for pennies on the proverbial dollar. 

So what can injured parties do to ensure they are not taken advantaged of by insurance parties eager to reach a favorable settlement?  First, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING.  With the important exception we will discuss below, once any legal release is signed, you can no longer pursue a claim.  It is vital to consult with an experienced lawyer, as an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer in Arlington, VA from a firm like The Law Offices of Ryan, LLC, to fully ascertain your available rights and remedies before you enter into any binding agreement.  

But what if you have already signed a binding release?  Generally, your claim has been extinguished.  However, in Virginia, if you settle your claim within thirty days of the incident in which you were injured, and you were not represented by counsel at the time the settlement was reached, you have three business days to rescind the agreement.  Virginia Code § 8.01-425.1 provides that:

a claimant or plaintiff executes a release of liability as a condition of settlement in a claim or action for personal injury within thirty days of the incident giving rise to such claim, such claimant or plaintiff shall have a right of rescission until midnight of the third business day after the day on which the release was executed, provided that he was not represented by counsel when the release was executed, the rescission was made in writing to the person or persons being released, their representative or insurance carrier, and the claimant returns to the person or persons being released any check or settlement proceeds received by the claimant prior to the rescission. A release of liability executed within thirty days of the incident giving rise to the claim for personal injury by a person who is not represented by counsel shall contain a notice of the claimant’s or the plaintiff’s right to rescind conspicuously and separately stated on the release.

Therefore, if you have signed a release within 30 days of your injury, time is of the absolute essence.  You have three business days to revoke your acceptance of your rights may be forever extinguished.  As always, consultation with experienced counsel like the personal injury attorneys is highly advised.