Please accept this blog entry this week. This is a common question I get at the injury law offices. Some insurance companies contact the injured person, usually before they have seen a doctor to have their injury diagnosed, and offer them some amount of money. The client might need money and does not know what to do. To analyze this question, it is important to understand what a release is and why the insurance company wants a release. This is a common questions posed to the accident lawyer and injury attorney (Deerfield Beach, Pompano, Coral Springs, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Lauderhill, Lauderdale lakes, Fort Lauderdale, Margate, Parkland, Weston, Tamarac, Plantation).
If you have been in an accident and the insurance company is asking you to sign a release, please call the lawyer for a free consultation at 561-483-9199 (Palm Beach), 954-755-2120 (Broward) or 305-981-1561 (Miami Dade). At Drucker Law Offices, a no charge consultation is offered and fees are only charged if your case is successfully resolved.
When someone purchases bodily injury liability insurance, generally the insurance policy states (you must read policy to see exactly what it states) that the insurance company will indemnify (pay for) any judgment entered against their insured. Thus, when someone injures you in an accident, their insurance company is responsble to pay for any judgment entered in a court of law when you sue them for injuries in an accident. A release agreement basically states that the case is over and that you cannot sue the other driver. Thus, when an insurance company settles a case, a condition of it is for you to sign a release and that release bars you from suring them. This is obviously in exchange for money. By signing the release, the insurance company satisfies its contractual obligation of indemnifying their driver against a judgment. It is the proverbial “nipping it in the bud” scenario. Thus, as a general rule, these agreements are not a good idea and I would recommend to get a legal opinion regarding the offer prior to signing the release from the insurance company.
A practice that some insurance companies do is that after an accident, they send someone to your house and offer you some money. If you accept this, the insurance company will have you sign a release and thus you cannot sue their driver in the future. The problem, in my opinion, is that often times at this very early stage of the accident, you do not know the full extent of the injuries and very little medical treatment has been rendered at that time. The key questions is: can you sue them for your injuries after you sign the release. Generally, you cannot sue people who you release in exchange for money. They would seek to have the case dismissed and very possibly they would have your case dismissed. There could be some scenarios, like if you could prove duress or some fraud in procuring the settlement, where you could get around the release but as a general matter this would be difficult to do.
Clearly, every case should be judged on its merits and you should consult an attorney as to your rights and the remedies afforded by Florida law. It is recommended to get a consultation regarding an accident case in case this happens to you. The advice contained in this blog is intended to be general advice and not as to a specific situation, so please call a licensed Florida attorney, like Law offices of Gary J. Drucker, to determine if and how Florida law applies to your case.
The main point is that at the beginning of a case, your injuries and the severity of the injuries are commonly very unclear. To be settling a case, with out the consultation of a licensed attorney, is very likely not a good idea. Before signing a release of your case, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to determine your rights. Generally, prior to resolving a case, there is a lot of information that you would want to know – what medical bills are due and owing, the extent of the injuries, the permanency of the injuries, the time missed from work, the insurance policy of the other person as well as any benefits provided by your own insurance, and so forth. If arguably the injured person is not injured or this is something that will heal in a few days (although I would need a crystal ball to know this…), this may be a good offer but obviously you do not know the extent of your injury at the very beginning of the case.
If you have been in an accident, please call the accident and injury lawyer (Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Park, West Palm Beach, Wellington, Loxahatchee, Lake Worth, Palm Springs, Royal Palm Beach) for a free consultation. Fees and costs are only charged if money is recovered for you. The phone number is 561-483-9199 or 954-755-2120 or 305-981-5363.