In many personal injury cases, the settlement awarded to the plaintiff is being paid by the defendant’s insurance company. This is particularly true in personal injury claims related to auto accidents. Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with during negotiations as it is practically guaranteed they will be doing their best to minimize the amount of payout they will owe you. Upon agreeing on a settlement amount, the insurance company will require you to sign an insurance release that waives your right to file a lawsuit or bring up any further claims related to the accident.
It is not uncommon for insurance companies to attempt a quick settlement by making an offer and asking the claimant to sign a release. While it may be tempting to end negotiations and get your money as quickly as possible, you should be very careful about signing an insurance release. Before signing, here are some points you should consider.
Make Sure All Damages Are Covered
Because signing an insurance release takes away your legal right to seek further damages for an accident, it is extremely important that all of your damages have been accounted for. One of the reasons insurance companies try to settle quickly is because many injuries are not always immediately noticeable. After signing the release, the claimant can no longer seek compensation for new injuries they discover. The more time an accident victim has to be properly treated, the more likely it is they will have an accurate picture of both their past and future medical expenses.
Understand All The Language
The language in legal documents, including insurance releases, is often quite complicated. It is very important that before signing anything, you make sure you fully understand what it is you are signing. If there are any points in the release you do not understand, ask the insurance adjuster to explain exactly what they mean. Although releases my vary slightly, they typically contain the following points:
- You are waiving your right to pursue compensation for any future injuries that have not yet been discovered.
- Although the insurance company is settling they claim they do not admit fault publicly. This is more for the public relations of the company and actually has no bearing on your individual claim.
- You waive your right to file any lawsuit or bring up another claim against the insurance company or at-fault party for the accident.
- By signing the agreement, you are accepting the settlement amount offered by the company and have no other deals with the at-fault party or other insurer.
Check If You Need Your Insurer’s Permission to Sign
When you sign the release, you are not only waiving your right to pursue further action, but also by extension your own insurance company. Although you may have exhausted your own options for seeking damages, your insurance company has a different set of resources that may allow them to recover damages they incurred because the at-fault party did not have sufficient coverage.
Ultimately, deciding if and when signing an insurance release is the right move depends on the specifics of your case. Make sure you take the time necessary to determine if every point of your claim has been addressed and you fully understand the implications before signing.