Understanding Common Language In An Accident Release Form

After you settle an accident claim with an insurance company, it will typically send you a form to sign essentially stating you won't continue pursuing compensation for the incident. This is fairly standard procedure, and you are generally required to sign and return the form before you'll receive your settlement check. Here are some legalese you may come across in the form and what it means.

You completely release and fully indemnify [driver] and [insurance company] from paying additional moneys outside of the agreed amount.

Essentially this means you won't get any more money for injuries or damages that develop (or you discover) at a later date outside of what you negotiated with the company. For example, you suffer whiplash during a car accident, but the doctor says you're fine. However, a year after you settle with the insurance company, you develop a neurological disorder connected to the crash. You won't be able to demand more money from the insurance provider for the new injury while this clause is in effect.

This is why it's critical you avoid rushing into a settlement until you are reasonably certain you have uncovered all your injuries and damages, particularly when it comes to medical issues. It can take weeks, months, and even years for certain injuries to appear. For instance, people have been known to have post-traumatic seizures resulting from concussions up to 15 years after the impacts occurred.

When negotiating your settlement, be certain to account for medical problems and/or damages you may sustain in the future, because you won't get a second chance.

You concede this is the only legal claim you have or will file against [driver] and [insurance company].

Some auto accidents give rise to multiple legal claims against the other party involved in the incident. For instance, a delivery driver crashes into you. You can sue the employer using vicarious liability laws, since the person was working at the time the incident occurred. However, you may also have a claim using negligent hiring laws if the driver was intoxicated at the time and had a criminal record consisting of DUIs.

This clause translates as you will not file another claim or sue the liable party over this incident using different laws. Insurance companies want to limit the number of times they have to pay out for the same accident. Therefore, they will include this clause to prevent people from coming at them multiple times seeking additional damages.

As you can tell, this will limit your legal options if there are different liability issues at play in your case. It's best to consult with an attorney to ensure you won't be hurting yourself by agreeing to this clause.

The settlement terms include all the written and oral agreements, promises, and representations made to you by [all parties involved in the process].

This clause typically comes at the end of the release form and basically means that everything you discussed with or were promised by the driver, insurance adjuster, defendant's attorney, and other parties involved in the settlement process was included in the terms of the agreement. The inclusion of this clause is to prevent you from claiming at a later date that you were promised something by someone.

You will be discussing a lot of things with the insurance adjuster and other people handling the case. It's a good idea to keep notes about who said what and compare them to the terms of the settlement to make sure they represent what was discussed. If you find any errors, bring it to the attention of the insurance company immediately so the appropriate changes can be made.

To discuss other terms you may run into when reading over an accident release form, contact an attorney.