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. It 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 their 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, including:
- Details of the accident: The agreement should at a minimum include the date and location of the accident.
- Claims: The form should describe the claims that it is releasing (i.e., all claims, just bodily injury, or just property damages). Often, insurance companies will make separate agreement forms for property damages, which claim is usually resolved within a few weeks of the accident, and for bodily injury claims, which can take much longer to resolve. It is very important that you know whether you are releasing only some, or all of your claims.
- Identification of the parties: Who was involved in the incident and to what extent.
- Payment: How much money is the insurance company agreeing to pay exchange for the claims you are releasing.
- Relevant 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. 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. 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 legally bound by it. The insurance company will not pay any additional amount for your claims, even if you incur costs in the future that are related to the accident; those will be your responsibility.
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 and your injuries. Even if you later discover additional injuries or damages, you won't be able to receive compensation. You will be responsible for settling all related liens (unpaid medical bills, subrogation, etc.)
- 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 states that the parties agree to the terms without blaming each other.
- Non-disclosure: Release forms sometimes include non-disclosure agreements. By agreeing to this agreement, you may be waiving your right to discuss or share details of your settlement.
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 offered settlement amount.
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 settling your claim. Contact an attorney in your area today for help with your car accident case.
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