Posted on November 30th, 2010 No comments
Been in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident? Thinking of settling you bodily injury claim with the insurance company without hiring a lawyer? If so, you need to be aware that before you can settle, the insurance company will require you to execute a Release. But, what is a Release? What legal effect does it have on your claim?
A Release does exactly what it says. It releases the other driver from any further legal liability to you for your bodily injuries. This gives the other driver a written agreement that you will not pursue him for any damages associated with the wreck. Should you find out later that you were more hurt than you thought or that your claim was worth more money than you accepted, the Release will act to bar any future claim.
As you can imagine, insurance companies will draft the Release. As you can also imagine, the Release will be written in a manner that provides the insurance company, and its driver, with the maximum protection against any claims by you. The Release will not be written with your rights or obligations in mind, and may be written more broadly than even necessary.
The Release is not a mere formality, but a restriction on your rights to pursue a legal claim against the driver who hurt you. You should treat it as you would any serious obligation. You should read the document and understand its implications and restrictions. You may also think about paying an attorney to review the document and insure it doesn’t seek more restrictions than are usual or necessary to accomplish its goal.
Only under very unusual circumstances will a Release be declared invalid. Once it is signed and delivered, it is binding. While a Release may be necessary to resolve any potential legal claim arising from a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, that doesn’t mean you should sign away your legal rights until you are fully aware of what it is your signing.