Steps To Take Before Signing An Auto Accident Release Form

Posted on: 4 February 2020

If you have successfully negotiated an auto accident claim, the insurance company will want you to sign a release form before you can cash your settlement check. The release form is a legal document that absolves the defendant and their insurance company from further blame. It basically says that you won't sue the defendant for further damages. Below are a few things to do before signing the release form.

Ensure Full Compensation

You won't get more money from the insurance company after signing the release form. Therefore, if there is something else you need from the carrier, ensure you get it before you sign the release form. Double-check your damages and confirm that the settlement covers them as far as you can tell.

This is why lawyers advise their clients only to sign release forms after reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI). At MMI, you can be sure of your medical (and related) damages, which means you know how much compensation you deserve.

Get Carrier Permission

Don't sign the release form before talking to your insurance company. You need a go-ahead from your carrier because of an insurance process known as subrogation. Subrogation comes into play if the defendant's coverage cannot compensate for your full damages. In such a case, if you have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, your carrier has to increase your compensation up to your UIM coverage limits. Your carrier then collects the money it has given to you from the defendant's insurance company.

However, you will tie your carrier's hands if you sign the release form before it can execute subrogation. This is because you absolve the defendant and their insurance from further blame or compensation once you sign the release form.

Understand the Document

Every time you want to sign a legally binding document, scrutinize the contents of the document and understand it fully. This advice is also valid for auto accident release forms. Read every clause and understand exactly what you are giving up by signing the document.

For example, the claim release should contain the settlement amount; confirm that it is the amount you agreed to during the negotiations. The release form will also contain details of the payments, such as whether you will receive the whole amount at once or you should expect structured settlements. Again, confirm that the arrangement honors your agreement.

Signing a release form is easy, but you won't be able to change any of its terms later. Therefore, you may want to ensure you are doing the right thing by having a lawyer review the document before you sign it. Reach out to an auto accident attorney service to learn more about this form.