What Is a Release in a Settlement Agreement?
When you accept a settlement offer, you must sign a release before receiving the agreed-upon funds. The release, which is legally binding, contains the terms to which you must adhere before getting your compensation and means the claim is closed and you cannot pursue it further. You agree not to sue any other party involved in the accident.
When dealing with an insurance company, it is vital to understand exactly what you are signing when you put your signature on the release. Even though you may need the money to pay the various expenses connected with your injury, never sign such a document before obtaining legal counsel.
It is always wise to contact an attorney before agreeing to a settlement amount with an insurance company. Keep in mind that the insurance company wants to pay as little as possible, and once a release is signed, you are out of luck if it turns out you must receive further medical treatment for your injuries. Once you have signed the release, the insurance company is free of any further obligation.
A Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Ellis Injury Law will protect your rights while negotiating a fair settlement for your injuries. We will answer any questions you have about the release and settlement so that you fully understand the process.
While the wording may vary, release agreements all include specific information. This will involve:
- Your name as the individual releasing the right to take further action against the party at-fault for your injuries
- The entity held responsible for the injury
- Date of the accident and injury
- Where the accident and injury took place
- The agreed-upon amount of money you will receive in exchange for the release
- Acknowledgement that you have read and understood the release
Often, the language in the release mandates that you do not reveal the settlement amount.
Many insurance companies use standard settlement release forms, and to the layperson, the document might sound like a lot of legal jargon. However, every release contains information pertinent to the individual claim. A personal injury lawyer will review every term in the release to ensure that it is acceptable. If there are issues, your lawyer will discuss them with the insurance representative.
For example, your lawyer might want to include a clause in the release preserving your right to bring a claim if you are later diagnosed with a medical issue relating to your injury. Perhaps those occasional headaches you experience after the accident are actually the result of neurological damage from the crash. Even if you think your injuries were not that serious and you have fully recovered, if you sign a release without such a clause, you must pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses and lost wages for any further injury.
Your lawyer will also review the settlement terms to make sure that all valid claims regarding your case are considered. Beyond medical bills and lost wages, that may include pain and suffering. As long as the release is still unsigned, there is room for negotiation.
However, if you try to negotiate these terms on your own without the aid of a lawyer, the odds of the insurance adjuster making such changes are low to non-existent. Expect the adjuster to simply tell you that there is no money without your signature on the release.
Personal Injury and Property Damage
Car accident settlements in which a person is injured and their vehicle is also damaged bear extra scrutiny. It is crucial to check the release to see if the property damage claim is included with the personal injury settlement. If it is not included, make sure you are not signing away your property damage claim when you sign the settlement release.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured in an accident and are receiving a settlement, you need the services of an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Ellis Injury Law. Call or text us 24/7 or fill out our online contact form to arrange a free consultation. Over the past quarter-century, our dedicated attorneys have recovered more than $350 million in settlements and verdicts for clients. There is never a fee unless we win your case.