March 3, 2015 • Personal Injury FAQs
You have been involved in a significant car accident and you get in touch with the insurance company of the careless driver. The company wants to settle the case with you, but before that, they want you to sign a document called a release. Should you ever sign such a document, before you have spoken to your attorney?
The insurance company of the careless driver has ongoing discussions, and finally they decide to make you an offer. You think the offer is quite reasonable, but before they can send you the check, they want you to sign a document called a general release. This document, says that you can never come back and bring a lawsuit against their client. Now, do you go ahead and sign this immediately, so that they can send you the check? Or, would it better to have the document reviewed by your attorney, who handles accident cases on a daily basis.
The Insurance Company will make a Small Offer
The insurance company, most likely is not going to be giving you full value for what your injuries are truly worth. Insurance companies do this because they know you do not have experience valuing this type of injury. They know you do not have experience negotiating with the insurance company. Hence, unless you are totally confident and have years of experience doing this, you may be at a significant disadvantage to sign that release in expectation of obtaining that settlement check right away.
An Experienced Accident Attorney can Provide the Right Advice
On the other hand, an attorney who handles these types of cases everyday is going to know exactly what your injuries are, he is going to know what the insurance coverage is, he is going to have an ongoing discussion with the insurance company, and he will be able to document and support all the problems you are having now. Your lawyer will also know the type of health problems you are likely to have in the future.
You really do not know what your health problems are going to be in the future, unless you have spoken to medical experts. If you need further surgery or rehabilitation in the future, who is going to pay for it?
You should realize that when you sign that general release document you will end your ability, and you will cut off all of your rights to after and sue the person who is responsible for causing the accident. Hence, when you sign the release, you are giving up all of your rights and you cannot initiate a lawsuit in the future against the careless person.
Therefore, it is pivotal to consult with your lawyer first, as he knows what your injuries are worth, and whether the settlement offer is fair and equitable. Unless you do this, you might end up with an amount that is pitiful and does not cover your costs, and you will not be able to sue the driver in the future. And you will realize you just made a colossal mistake.