If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in California, you have probably been thrown into a stressful, confusing legal battle with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
There are numerous legal requirements in a personal injury claim, and it is critical that you understand these matters before you sign any documents. A skilled California personal injury attorney is able to provide guidance in these cases and ensure that your legal rights are protected.
One of the most important documents you will sign in a personal injury case is a release of all claims form.
The Release of All Claims Form Defined
A release of all claims form is exactly what it sounds like: it is a document that absolves the parties of any liability for an accident. Once this form is signed, it is no longer possible for an injured accident victim to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. A release of all claims form generally accompanies a settlement agreement.
Not surprisingly, insurance companies send out these forms as quickly as possible to accident victims. The insurance company’s goal is to maximize its profits, which it does by paying as little as possible on claims.
The insurance company may make an offer that is too low and does not cover all of the accident victim’s damages. For example, the insurance company may refuse to cover all of the accident victim’s lost wages or the cost of the victim’s future medical care.
Insurance companies do not always offer the damages to which accident victims are entitled. However, if these accident victims sign a release of all claims form, they forfeit the right to seek additional damages.
When Should I Sign a Release of All Claims Form?
You should only sign a release of all claims form if you have hired an experienced California car accident attorney to represent you in your claim.
In many cases, it may be possible to settle the claim with the insurance company without the need to file a lawsuit. However, you need your attorney’s expertise and legal advice to confirm that the settlement you are receiving is fair and covers all of your damages.
In a motor vehicle accident claim, damages may include:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of future medical care
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Expenses related to remodeling a home, such as building a wheelchair ramp
Other types of damages may also be available, depending on the facts of the claim.
A release of all claims form should not be signed until you have the total value of all of your damages. You should have completed your medical treatment or, if your medical treatment must continue into the future, you should have an estimate of its cost. If you sign a release of claims forms too soon, you could lose a significant amount of money.
For example, if you sign a release of all claims forms a few days after an accident, but a day or two later discover that you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, you will be responsible for all expenses associated with that traumatic brain injury.
What is Included in a Release of All Claims Form?
Although every insurance company will use its own release of all claims form, there are some commonalities between these documents.
Each release of all claims forms will have a paragraph that removes the insurance company’s obligation to pay you any additional money other than the settlement amount that has been agreed upon.
Additionally, the release of all claims form will explicitly state that you are completely giving up your right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the insurance company for losses caused by the accident.
A release of all claims forms also usually includes a statement that clarifies no admission of fault is being made by any party. The settlement amount simply finalizes the claim without pinpointing fault.
Call Today to Speak with an Experienced California Car Accident Attorney
At Kuvara Law Firm, our attorneys make sure that you are being fairly compensated before you sign a release of all claims form. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, we are not afraid to file a lawsuit on your behalf.