If you are in a car accident that you did not cause, you may know you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and property repairs. In Arizona, the auto insurance company of the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying for your losses. It can be difficult, however, to know how to protect your rights as an injured victim. Insurance companies are not on your side. It is critical not to sign anything – especially a release of liability form – before consulting with a Phoenix car accident lawyer.
What Is a Release Form?
The main type of release form you will encounter during a car accident case is a liability release waiver. This is the form you will receive after settling with the insurance company. Before the company will write a check, you must sign the release waiver. This legal document releases the defendant from any further liability for your accident and injuries, even if you discover additional injuries or treatment costs later. You are waiving the right to file another claim against the driver or insurance company for the same accident in exchange for the money offered.
After you sign a release form, you will generally have no further recourse against the defendant. You will not be able to go back and change your mind or renegotiate for greater compensation. You cannot reopen a car accident claim after signing the release form and closing the case. This is true even if you discover additional expenses later. It is critical, therefore, to wait to sign a release form until you have taken the settlement offer to a personal injury attorney for a review.
The other type of release form you may encounter is a medical release form. This is a document that, if signed, gives the insurance company access to your medical records. The problem with this form is that it does not typically specify which records the company may access. This means the company can access your full medical history, often with the goal of finding a pre-existing condition and denying your injury claim. Do not sign a medical release form until speaking to an attorney.
Things to Consider Before You Sign
Do not sign something as permanent as a release form after a car accident without careful consideration. Confirm that you are receiving a fair amount based on your injuries and losses. Look at the insurance coverage available for your claim. Then, consider all of the expenses you will have in connection to the car accident, both now and in the foreseeable future.
- The severity of your injuries
- The future projected costs of your required medical treatments
- Any disability accommodations or live-in care you will need
- Lost future capacity to earn a living due to your injuries
- Diminished capacity to earn from a partial disability
- The motives of the insurance company
Before you sign a liability release waiver, be certain the insurance company is paying for all the costs of your treatment and losses, past and future. If you do not have prior experience calculating the value of a car accident claim or negotiating with an insurance provider for fair compensation, take your case to a Phoenix personal injury lawyer for assistance. A lawyer can help you protect your rights before you sign on the dotted line.
When to Contact an Attorney in Arizona
It is critical to contact a car accident attorney before signing any paperwork you receive from an insurance company. The insurance company is likely trying to trap you into signing something that hurts your case. You can trust a lawyer to be 100% on your side during a claim. Your lawyer will work for you, not an insurance company. An insurance adjuster, on the other hand, will have one goal during settlement negotiations: convincing you to settle for as little as possible. Consult with a car accident lawyer in Arizona regarding your case before you sign anything. A lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you need.