Car Accidents & Release Forms: What Should You Sign?

Car Accidents & Release Forms: What Should You Sign?

There’s a whirlwind of activity that follows a car accident as all parties involved prepare to protect themselves. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by another driver’s negligent driving, it is likely that you will be contacted by their insurance company. The company may send you forms to sign, including a medical authorization release, a release of all liability and claims, and a property damage release. Before you reach for a pen, you should contact your lawyer. Learn more about these documents, and why you should consult with your attorney before signing them.

Medical Authorization Release

Your injuries and treatment will be the most important factor when it comes to determining the amount of compensation you will receive after your accident. The negligent driver’s insurance company should pay you for your medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Signing a medical authorization release gives insurance companies access to your entire medical history, including information that may be used to attack your claim.

If you sign a medical authorization release, insurance companies will be able to see your:

  • Prior medical history, including old injuries or complaints that may be used to discredit the injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Doctor’s notes, including statements that may contradict or be inconsistent with the claimed injuries.
  • Visit history, including how frequently you visit your doctor, visits to specialists, and non-related health issues that can be used to prove that you were in poor health before the accident.

Release of All Claims and Liability

To settle your case, a release of all claims and liability must be signed at some point, but that doesn’t mean you should hurry to sign and submit this document. Once the signed document has been received by the insurance company, your claim will be permanently closed, and you will have no recourse if the settlement amount wasn’t large enough to cover your needs. It is important to ensure that you will receive an adequate settlement amount before submitting a release of all claims and liability. Your attorney can prepare a final release for you, which will ensure that all the terms are correct.

The release of all claims and liability will contain:

  • The names of all who were involved in the accident, including you, the other driver, and the other driver’s insurance company.
  • A statement regarding the accident and your injuries, which will include the date of the accident.
  • The dollar amount of your personal injury settlement
  • Any agreements regarding the payment of specific medical bills or debts resulting from the accident.
  • A statement that you are releasing the other driver and their insurance company from future claims of liability or damages from the accident.

Property Damage Release

The damage to your vehicle is also an important expense after an accident. You may lose your transportation while you wait for repairs, and dealing with insurance may make the wait even longer. There are two ways that your property damage claim will be handled, depending on the amount of damage your vehicle sustained.

If your car is totaled, the insurance company is likely to make you an offer based on the market value of your vehicle in pre-accident condition. Your car is considered totaled when the cost to repair the vehicle is more expensive than the value of the car. If this is the case, you will receive a check or a property damage release from the insurance company. Once the check is cashed or the release is signed, your claim will be closed.

If your car is not totaled, the insurance company will pay for repairs. Generally, you will be able to take your car to the repair shop of choice, and the insurance company will pay the shop directly for repairs. Typically, a release or a check will not be issued to you if your car is repaired. You will only need to sign off on any repairs estimated by the body shop.

The Importance of Legal Representation

You may feel that a car accident claim is something you can handle on your own, but mistakes in handling your claim can cost you the full amount your injury deserves. An experienced car accident attorney can help you prove that you deserve the maximum amount of compensation available and can help you navigate the process of your settlement. Your lawyer will advocate for your needs and can guide the negotiation process to help you reach an agreement that you are satisfied with.

Our team at The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC is committed to being a voice for injured victims of car accidents. We have more than 35 years of combined experience to defend your claims, and we seek to represent your best interests with personalized client service.

Contact our Alexandria car accident attorneys today to request a free case evaluation.