Whether or not you should sign a release after a car accident depends on the specifics of your case. Any time you are injured in a collision caused by the careless or reckless behavior of another person, the insurance company for the at-fault party will ask you to sign a release of liability. However, it could be a mistake to do so before consulting with an attorney.
What is a Release of Liability?
Signing a release form basically means you are letting go or releasing the responsible party from further liability. In other words, you are giving up your right to sue for any future damages resulting from the accident. For instance, you may not be compensated for future medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering.
Do Insurance Companies Require a Signed Release Form?
The at-fault driver’s insurance company may ask you to sign a release form before paying you any compensation, or paying the body shop you have chosen to repair your vehicle. It is a final payment, so you must review the form carefully to make sure that you are only releasing liability for the aspects of your claim which you have settled. For instance, if your claim has not been finalized with regard to your injuries suffered in the accident, make sure the form does not release liability for your injury. If your own insurance company is paying you for the accident, they will also require a signed release of liability.
What To Do Before Signing a Release of Liability
Before signing a release of liability, schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case. Insurance companies will often pressure car accident victims to sign a release and accept a quick settlement offer. They do this in an attempt to minimize payouts on a claim. A car accident attorney can advise you on if you are recovering the maximum amount of compensation allowable for your claim.
Additionally, you may need permission from your own car insurance company before signing a release of liability. This is typically the case when your insurer must pursue a subrogation claim. Subrogation refers to the process by which your insurance company recovers money from the at-fault party or their insurer for funds they, or you have already paid. For instance, if you are hit by an underinsured driver whose policy limits aren’t enough to fully compensate you for your losses, your own insurer may be able to make up the difference under your underinsured motorist coverage. Your insurer will then use your legal right to go after the other driver or their insurer to recover the money they paid you.
If you sign a release without your insurer’s permission, they will not have the ability to go after the other driver for reimbursement. Your insurer may then try to deny your claim for benefits under your underinsured motorist coverage.
We Can Help
Our Houston car accident attorneys have extensive experience helping injured victims navigate their claims. Contact us today through our website or by calling (713) 489-4270 to schedule a free consultation.