Visitor Question

Should I sign this release of all claims?

Submitted By: Anonymous (San Pedro, CA)

I was driving on a street and a truck ahead of me started backing up. Even though I stopped and pressed the horn the other driver didn’t stop and hit me in the frontal part of my SUV. He admitted fault for the accident. I called his insurance and they accepted liability for my loss.

I took my SUV for repairs and they were gonna pay the bill ($1,700). The same day of the incident I went to the ER. I ended up with a neck sprain and a thoracic strain, but the insurance didn’t want to accept liability because according to them the impact was low.

While in the body shop they found some other damages on my SUV caused by the impact. So I asked the insurance adjuster to review the denied injury claim and she did, she said she understood that the impact could cause injury and pain so she offered $250. I didn’t accept because the bills from the hospital total more than $7,000.

Now she agrees to pay the total of the bills but she sent me a release of all claims in order to send the payment. I have doubts if I should sign because there’s a part that says:

“…it is understood and agreed this is a compromise settlement of a disputed claim and payment for this release shall not be deemed or construed as an admission of liability of the released parties. It is understood the released parties deny any liability and shall not be barred from pursuing any claim or cause of action any of the released parties may have against the undersigned.”

I don’t know if they could do anything against me. Should I sign the release? Are they being fair with their offer? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

The language you quote can be thought of as “boilerplate.” It is the same general language used in insurance settlements for years and years, and will likely still be used years and years from now. What the language is basically saying is quite simple. By accepting the settlement amount and signing the compromise, you are releasing the insurance company from any liability for the accident.

It sounds strange, but that is the way it is done. By paying you, the insurance company is tacitly accepting liability on behalf of their insured. It is a compromise between you and the insurance company. They will pay you, but as soon as they do, they are absolved from any further action you might consider against them alone.

In other words, the insurance company is “washing its hands” of the matter as soon as you sign the release and negotiate the insurance check. They have done their job by paying what appears to be a legitimate claim. They want to move on to the next accident and the next insured. Good luck and God Speed as it were…

For all intents and purposes, the claim will be over as son as you sign the release and negotiate the check. If you refuse to sign the agreement, your only alternative would be to sue the driver. From the facts you present, there is no reason to do so. You may continue to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company until you sign the release. Once you sign, you will not be able to pursue further compensation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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