What Are Car Accident Release Forms?
It can be difficult to protect your rights as a car accident victim. After your crash, multiple parties may try to contact you: your insurance company, the claims adjuster of the other driver’s insurance company, bill collectors and investigators. Be careful what you say to others after an accident, as well as what forms you sign. You could be signing away your rights and hurting your injury claim when filling out forms from insurance companies. Be especially wary of signing a car accident release form before talking to an accident attorney.
Car Accident Release Forms in CA
A car accident release form is a document an auto insurance company will need you to sign before giving you a settlement check for your damages. It releases the insurance company from all future liability for the car accident in question in return for a settlement check. The typical motor vehicle accident release form will prevent you from holding the insurance company accountable for all known and unknown claims against its client in the future. Even if something changes later, you will be unable to bring any further claims once you sign.
After signing a car accident release form, you cannot take it back. You cannot request compensation for the same injury or accident from the insurance company regardless of any future changes in your physical health or case file. It is important, therefore, to take your case to a lawyer before signing the car accident release form. You must be fully aware of your rights and the weight of what you are doing before you sign. Otherwise, you could end up limiting your recovery.
The car accident release form is just one type of document an insurance company might send you during the claims process. Be wary of signing any forms with the words “release” or “authorization” in the aftermath of a car accident. Read these forms over thoroughly and take them to an attorney before putting your name in ink. You could be unknowingly signing away your rights to hold the defendant responsible for the full extent of your injury, including future losses you could suffer.
Do I Need to Sign One?
In most cases, you will need to sign a car accident release form before the insurance company will release your settlement check. You should not, however, sign it in haste before bringing it to a lawyer. Do not let the insurance company rush or pressure you into signing it without legal consultation. A lawyer can read the fine print and let you know if it is in your best interest to sign, or if it would be better to negotiate further with the insurer first. A lawyer may bring several issues to your attention that prevent you from signing the release form.
- Low settlement offer. The amount the insurance company offers you may be much lower than the fair value of your damages. Most insurance companies expect claimants to negotiate for higher amounts.
- Missing damages. The insurer could be missing information about your damages, such as new information from your doctor or a vehicle repair shop, that increases the value of your claim.
- Lack of future medical compensation. Settling too soon could lead to missing out on important compensation for your future health care bills and lost wages if you suffered a serious, catastrophic or disabling personal injury.
Most insurance companies want to settle claims as quickly and for as little money as possible. The initial car accident release form, therefore, may be premature or missing important information. Always have a lawyer review documents and forms you get from an insurance company before signing. A California personal injury lawyer will be on your side during the recovery process rather than working for an insurance company or third party. You can trust the counsel you receive from an attorney about whether or not to sign a car accident release form.