What to Know Before Singing a Car Accident Settlement Release
If you have been injured in a car accident where the other driver was obviously at fault, such if you were rear-ended by someone who sped through a stop sign, and you have the witnesses to prove it, then an auto insurance company may offer you a quick settlement. This can be appealing, to get quick money that saves you the hassle of finding an attorney and filing a claim that has to go through rounds of negotiation.
But before you sign a release, realize that you would signing away your right to sue for any more compensation for the accident. Before you end your case, there are a few things you need to consider.
First of all, if the settlement is not going to cover all of your medical bills and lost wages, then why accept a lowball offer? One of the downsides of a fast settlement is that it could leave you under compensated. And if you were not injured, are the costs of vehicle repair, towing, etc. covered? Even so, if you wait longer, you could realize that those nagging headaches and that stiffness are actually a concussion and spinal cord injuries, for example. Generally speaking, you should probably not accept any settlement offer until a doctor has decided that you no longer need medical treatment.
Secondly, you may have to check with your insurer first. Let’s say, for instance, that you were rear-ended by a driver, who is entirely to blame for the crash, and you have sustained $25,000 in damages. That driver’s insurance policy can only go as high as $15,000, and this is the amount that the insurance company is offering you in your settlement. What more could you ask for? You probably cannot sue the driver anyway, right? You can collect the rest from your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, which means that your own insurer can supply the remaining $10,000.
But since you would be depending on your own insurance company for full coverage, this is why you would have to get the okay from them before you sign a release. What happens with an uninsured motorist policy is that the insurer pays you, and then goes after the other driver to recover the money they had to give you.
But if you sign that release, then the insurer cannot go after the driver, because you waived that right. Your insurer would not be able to recover that money. In that case, your insurer may not have to compensate you.
Now in simple cases, where you were barely injured and you have some car repair to do, you may know the exact amount of compensation you need. If you get a quick settlement offer that is worth even more than those damages, then you might be okay signing that release.
But it is always in your best interests to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney first. With the help of a legal expert, you can know what your case is really worth, and if you would be signing away crucial rights if you signed the release.
If you or a loved one have been harmed in an auto accident, be sure to contact the Whitley Law Firm. As North Carolina has contributory negligence, you could lose out on all compensation if you are blamed in any way for the accident.
Learn how much your claim could be worth, and defend your right to compensation when you work with a Raleigh personal injury lawyer from our firm. You can get started on your case by filling out a free case review today.