In the aftermath of sustaining an injury, and when there is the possibility of an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit, injury victims need to take steps to protect themselves. Soon after an accident that involved an injury, the injured party will receive various documents from the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. Amongst this paperwork will likely include documents titled as “releases” or “authorizations.” These documents will ask for the injured party’s signature. If you or somebody you love has been injured due to another person’s careless or negligent actions, you need to be very wary of signing these documents.
There are various types of authorizations or releases that you may receive from a liable party’s insurance carrier. This can include the following:
The primary factor of determining the value of a personal injury case revolves around the injuries and the medical treatment a person receives. In these situations, it is the responsibility of the negligent party’s insurance carrier to compensate a victim for their medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering damages. However, if an insurance carrier has access to a victim’s past medical history, they could use this information to say that the victim was not hurt due to the incident in question, but rather from a prior incident. An insurance carrier could also use the frequency of your prior hospital or doctor visits to label you as somebody who was “fragile” before an accident happened, thus devaluing your claim.
Eventually, accident victims will want to settle their insurance claims with the insurance carrier. However, is important that claims not be finalized until a fair settlement is made. Unfortunately, many accident victims sign a release of liability without completely understanding the consequences of signing such a document. Injury victims need to understand that signing a release of all liability and claims is permanent. Once it is signed, there is no way for a victim to reopen an insurance case or file a lawsuit for injuries due to the incident in question.
Property damage most often occurs in a car accident case, and a major concern of any victim is getting the vehicle repaired or replaced. Having no transportation is a major inconvenience, and many people just want the property damage part of their settlement to be over with. If your vehicle is considered “totaled” after a crash, an insurance company will make an offer based on the vehicle’s actual cash value (in pre-accident condition). You will receive a check and/or a release agreement based on the value of the vehicle. Once you sign the document or cash the check, the property damage claim will be closed.
If your vehicle is not totaled, you will usually be able to choose a body shop of your choice to have a vehicle repaired. In these cases, the insurance company will pay the body shop directly for the repairs listed in the estimate, and you will be required to sign off on those repairs.
Signing these documents after an injury, particularly soon after an incident occurs, could result in a victim receiving little to no compensation for what happened. Insurance carriers are “for-profit” entities, and they will do what they can to ensure you receive as little as possible in a settlement.
You should contact a skilled Indianapolis car accident attorney who can advise you on the best course of action concerning releases in authorizations. The advice you receive from an attorney could stop the insurance carrier from pressuring you into signing and could significantly increase the value of your claim.