What Is a 'Release of All Claims' Form?
You've been involved in a car accident as a result of another driver's carelessness. After weeks of medical treatment, you've received a settlement offer from the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company is making you sign a "release of all claims" form before issuing you a check. What exactly is this form? Are you required to sign this? Read on to learn about what legal effect release forms have in a car accident case.
Definition: Release of All Claims
A release of all claims form may be included as part of a settlement agreement, which is a document agreeing to resolve the parties' differences, dismiss their claims, and release the opposing parties from liability. Release of all claims forms are also called liability waiver forms.
A release of all claims form releases the responsible party (the other driver who was at fault and his or her insurance company) from any liability and obligation to pay you for the damages associated with the accident. Insurance companies usually ask you to sign the release form before making any payments. A release form should contain all relevant information regarding the claim:
- Details of the accident
- Your claim(s) (i.e., property damages and bodily injury)
- Identification of the parties
- Governing law
Before Signing a Release of All Claims Form
You need to make sure all damages related to the accident are covered in the settlement agreement offered by the insurance company. Once you sign the release form, you won't be able to make additional claims arising out of the accident. Especially, if you're still undergoing medical treatment, you should wait until you're fully recovered to claim damages.
Sometimes, insurance companies will try to quickly settle a claim to save money and time. In most cases, there's always room for negotiation. If you disagree with any part of the settlement offer, you shouldn't sign a release of all claims form. Once you sign the form, you will be personally responsible for any upcoming or future costs associated with the car accident.
Average Release of All Claims Form
Generally, you will be required to sign the release form before cashing out your settlement check issued by the insurance company. The insurance company can hold onto the check until it receives a signed release of all claims form from you. Although release of claims forms may vary by individual insurance company or by jurisdiction, they generally contain the following basic clauses and legal consequences:
- Releasing Obligation to Pay: Most release forms require you to agree that you won't be receiving any further payments regarding the accident injuries. Even if you later discover additional injuries or damages, you won't be able to receive compensation.
- Giving Up the Right to Sue: By signing the release form, you are giving up your right to sue the insurance company and the insured driver who was at fault for the accident.
- Non-Admission of Fault: Release forms provide that the parties are not admitting fault for the accident. This doesn't have any effect on the settlement amount, but rather it's stating that the parties agree to the terms without blaming each other.
If you've reviewed the release form and fully understood the terms and consequences, you may sign the form and submit it to the insurance company in exchange for the settlement amount being offered.
Get an Attorney's Help with a Release of all Claims Form
Signing a release of all claims form will have significant legal consequences. As a result, it's always recommended that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before deciding to settle your claim. Contact an attorney in your area today for help with your car accident case.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.