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What is a Car Accident Release Form?

September 29, 2021Firm News

Once you reach a settlement with an insurance company after a car accident, the adjuster will require you to sign a release of liability before they will send a check. This form releases the company and their policyholder from further liability related to your accident and prevents you from taking legal action at a later time. 

Should I Sign a Car Accident Release Form? 

Sign a car accident release form only when you have given yourself time to fully understand the extent of your injuries, and you reach a settlement you believe is fair and have discussed it with an attorney. A fair settlement amount will depend on the specifics of your case, which is why before signing one, it is in your best interests to speak to an experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer. They can evaluate your claim and discuss the minimum amount of compensation they believe you are entitled to. 

After a collision, you may feel fine at first and be tempted to accept a quick settlement to resolve the case and move on. However, an initial settlement offer is typically unfairly low. There is also a risk that you did suffer a severe injury and have delayed symptoms. The last thing you want to do is agree to a small settlement then be stuck with extensive medical bills down the line. Once you sign a car accident release form, it is a legally binding contract, and you cannot take it back. Working with an attorney can often increase the size of your settlement. In fact, clients who let attorneys handle their car accident claims receive an average of three and a half times more than someone who files a claim on their own. 

Additionally, it may be stipulated in your own auto insurance policy that you must obtain permission before signing a release of liability. The reason being that if your insurer provided you benefits under your policy, and you signed away your legal rights to further compensation, your insurer will not be able to pursue reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer. If that is the case, your insurer may attempt to deny your claim for benefits. 

Do I Have To Sign a Car Accident Release Form? 

You will have to sign a car accident release form eventually to receive payment on a settlement or court award. When it finally does come time to sign a release, review the terms carefully and have an attorney look it over. Make sure the form states precisely which aspects of your claim you are settling. For instance, you may be ready to resolve your property damage claim but not your injury claim; then, the form should have language that specifies that. 

Insurance companies routinely commit bad faith and purposely send releases that contain language that strips you of further legal rights. If you are not ready to resolve your entire case but see wording on the form, such as “final settlement” or “general release,” the insurer is looking to absolve themselves completely. Signing it before having an attorney review it can be a huge mistake.

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