After being injured in a car accident, the insurance company for the other side will attempt to contact you and get you to sign different release forms. Just remember that everything insurance companies do is designed to give you less money so they can keep more money. One of the ways they do this is through the use of release forms.
Types of Release Forms
There are a few different types of release forms you may receive from the insurance company that you should be wary of. These include the following:
- Medical release form. Insurance companies often try to limit their liability and, in turn, the money they pay out on claims. One way they do this is by asking claimants to sign a medical authorization form. This allows them to look at your past medical records so they can see if you had a preexisting injury that could poke holes in your current injury claim. Do not sign this release form; it just allows them to try and pass the blame onto a past injury or see if there is anything they can use against you. If the adjuster wants to review your current medical records, you can ask the doctor’s office for the current records and send them on to the adjuster yourself after reviewing them.
- Property damage release form. Some insurance companies send out property damage settlement forms. They send a check to you for the amount of your vehicle repairs and if you deposit that check or sign the release form, you will not be able to come after them if you find out that your vehicle damages cost more than the initial estimate. Additionally, some insurance companies play dirty and try to trick people, so make sure the words “Property Damage Only” are on the release form so that it doesn’t bar you from making a personal injury settlement.
- General release form or final settlement release form. Insurance companies will often attempt to settle a case quickly for as little money as possible. This is why they will try to get victims to agree to a monetary settlement very soon after an accident. They do this because they know that victims often do not know the full extent of their injuries. For instance, they may offer a $25,000 settlement; however, the victim’s full amount of damages may be closer to $50,000 or higher. Unfortunately, the victim may not know the full extent of his damages and may think the $25,000 settlement offer sounds fair and accepts. The victim will then sign a “release of all claims” form that releases the insurance company of any and all further damages associated with the accident. That means if the victim’s headaches actually turns into a neurological problem, the insurance company is off the hook for having to cover future costs. Remember, if you agree to accept a settlement from the insurance company, they will require you to sign a release form that waives your right to collect any further money or sue them regarding the accident and your related injuries. Because this form releases the insurance company and the other responsible party of all liability associated with the accident, it is in your best interest not to sign it—especially before an attorney reviews your case to see if you are getting all the compensation you are due.
The Consequences of Signing a Release Form
Be very careful of the forms you sign when dealing with an insurance company. Release forms are forever and can bar you from collecting additional compensation. Remember that release forms “release” the other party of their liability. If you sign forms like these before you understand your condition or before the doctor has determined that you do not need further medical treatment, you may be stuck with expensive medical bills and additional treatment that you cannot afford to pay.
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