When you settle a personal injury lawsuit, whether, with the insurance company or the at-fault party, you will be asked to sign a release agreement. It is a legal waiver of all claims related to the cause of action (the event that gave you the right to sue).
Signing a release is usually a condition for receiving a settlement, so you likely cannot receive payment without it. However, it constitutes a waiver of all claims related to the accident– even those claims you might not yet know about and damages that you might incur in the future. Because a release essentially gives up your right to sue, you should ask a personal injury lawyer to review it before you sign it.
What is included in a release?
A release will say that the parties agree that in exchange for receiving a settlement payment, the plaintiff will waive all claims related to the accident. It should include the details of the accident, including:
- The names of the parties involved
- The date and other identifying information for the accident
- The type of damage or injury sustained
- The amount of payment given in consideration for the release
Settlement agreements and releases may look like standard legalese, but there is often negotiation over the wording. Your personal injury attorney will be on the lookout for potential issues before you are bound to the contract.
What to look for in a release
Once you sign a release, your right to sue the other party– and potentially any other non-parties as well– ends.
Before signing, make sure all of your claims for compensation are accounted for. You may need to work with professionals who can calculate future losses, including medical treatment that you will likely need. Other professionals may be necessary to give educated estimates for your complete recovery if you are still suffering from your injury. If you incur greater losses after the settlement, you will have no way of collecting for them against the released party.
Your lawyer will also review the wording and determine whether you need to reserve the right to sue other potentially liable parties. If you discovered, for example, that a mechanical error partly caused your car accident, then your personal injury lawyer would consider including language in your release agreement that allows you to sue the carmaker.
Contact us at Rutter Mills for a free consultation
Insurance companies often pressure plaintiffs to sign release agreements quickly and for as little money as possible. Do not fall for this tactic; resist the pressure and instead discuss your case with an experienced lawyer.
If you were injured in Norfolk, in Virginia Beach, or a nearby community, call Rutter Mills to discuss your case for free. Our lawyers take personal injury seriously and are here to help you fight for full compensation for your losses.
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