Two Ways to Invalidate a Settlement Agreement
Once a settlement agreement has been signed, it's generally too late to change your mind. You're stuck with the outcome of the agreement, even if you have regrets later. However, if you're unhappiness is the result of something shady that happened during the proceedings, here are two ways you can get the settlement contract invalidated.
Show the Defendant Behaved Fraudulently
Possibly your best option for getting a settlement agreement invalidated is to show the defendant committed some type of fraud during the negotiation process. The court defines fraud as:
- Knowingly relaying an untrue representation of the facts
- Lying to deceive the other party and get him or her to act on those lies
- Making untrue representations in a reckless manner
In some cases, intentional non-disclosure of important information can also constitute a form of fraud. For example, if the insurance company knew the defendant had an umbrella policy that took over when the damages exceed his or her main policy and didn't disclose that fact, you could get the settlement overturned if you negotiated for less money because you didn't think the defendant had enough coverage.
Beware, though, the fraud must be significant and have an impact on the settlement. If the defendant's actions wouldn't not have changed the outcome of the settlement in any way or if the issue is relatively minor, the judge may deny your request to cancel the contract.
Prove You Entered the Contract Under Duress
Another way you could get the settlement agreement invalidated is by proving you signed the agreement under duress or as the result of undue influence. Essentially, you would have to show you didn't sign the contract of your own free will. For instance, the defendant threatening to shoot you if you didn't sign the contract would constitute duress, because you were acting under the threat of harm.
Of course, instances of duress or undue influence are not nearly as dramatic as the example. In fact, they can be very subtle, which is why it can be challenging to prove sometimes. For instance, the defendant obtains compromising pictures of you and claims they will be released to the local newspaper if you don't agree to the terms of the settlement agreement. This would be considered blackmail and qualify as duress, but you may have a hard time showing the defendant did, in fact, blackmail you if the person is careful to only subtly hint at that possible outcome.
It's best to connect to an motorcycle accident legal services about your options for overturning a settlement agreement. They can help you develop a strategy and obtain the necessary resources that may result in the outcome you want.