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Understanding a 'Release of All Claims' Form

A "release of all claims" form is a legal document reflecting the resolution of a dispute, dismissing any further claims, and releasing the opposing party or parties from liability. This document is usually signed as part of a settlement agreement. It is also known as a liability waiver form.

Suppose you're involved in a car accident due to another motorist's carelessness. After weeks of medical treatment, you receive a settlement offer from the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company requires you to sign a liability waiver form before issuing you a settlement check.

This article covers what you must know about "release of all claims" forms. It includes what information insurance companies expect you to provide in their form. It also addresses things to consider before signing a liability waiver form.

What Information Does a Release of All Claims Form Provide?

A release of all claims form should contain all relevant information about your claim. When you sign a release of all claims form, you free the responsible parties (the at-fault driver and their insurance company) from any liability and obligation to pay you for the damages associated with the accident.

A release form should include the following information:

  • Details of the Accident: The document should, at a minimum, include the date and location of the accident.
  • Claims: The form should describe the claims subject to release, whether that's all claims, bodily injury claims, or just property damage claims. Insurance companies often have separate forms for property damage and bodily injury claims. Property damage claims can usually be resolved within a few weeks after an accident. In contrast, bodily injury claims can take much longer to resolve. It's crucial to understand whether you're releasing all or only some of your claims
  • Identification of the Parties: The document should describe who was involved in the incident and to what extent each party was involved.
  • Payment: The form should convey the amount of money the insurance company agrees to pay in exchange for your release of claims.
  • Relevant Law: The document should set out what specific laws govern the agreement.

Before Signing a Release of All Claims Form

Before you consider signing a liability waiver form, you must ensure 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. If you're still undergoing medical treatment, you should wait until you're fully recovered before you settle your claim for damages.

Sometimes, insurance companies will try to quickly settle a claim to save money and time. In most cases, there's room for negotiation. Don't sign a release of all claims form if you disagree with any part of the settlement offer. Once you sign the form, you're legally bound by it. The insurance company won't pay any additional amount for your claims. You'll be responsible for any costs you incur in the future that are related to the accident.

What Rights Am I Giving up by Signing a Release of All Claims Form?

Release of claims forms may vary by individual insurance companies or by jurisdiction. However, they generally contain the following basic clauses and have corresponding legal consequences:

  • Releasing Obligation to Pay: Most release forms require you to agree that you won't receive any further payments regarding the accident and your injuries. Even if you discover additional injuries or damages later, you won't receive compensation. You'll be responsible for settling all related liens, such as unpaid medical bills.
  • Giving Up the Right to Sue: By signing the release form, you're giving up your right to sue the insurance company and the insured driver who was at fault for the accident.
  • Nonadmission of Fault: Release forms provide that the parties aren't admitting fault for the accident. This doesn't have any effect on the settlement amount.
  • Nondisclosure: Release forms sometimes include nondisclosure clauses, also known as confidentiality clauses. By agreeing to this clause, you may waive your right to discuss or share details of your settlement.

You must generally sign a release form before an insurance company issues a settlement check. The insurance company can hold onto the check until you provide a signed release form.

Review the release form and ensure you fully understand the terms and consequences before signing and submitting the form to the insurance company in exchange for the offered settlement amount.

Get an Attorney's Help With a Release of All Claims Form

Signing a release of all claims form has significant legal consequences. That's why it's best to get legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer before settling your claim or signing a release of liability form. Contact an attorney in your area today for help in protecting your legal rights.

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