Most insurance companies try to have you sign your rights away. They may offer you some money for the accident and allocate some money for future medical expenses. But you need to understand and read these documents carefully because these payments usually have a limit, and it will rarely be the total amount of insurance that is available for your case.
Documents from an Insurance Company
Before releasing any money to you or negotiating a settlement, the insurance company for the party responsible for the accident will send certain documents for your signature. These documents include:
A Release of Liability or Release of Liability and Claims
Property Damage Release (Check)
A Medical Authorization Release
Before signing any of these documents, you must understand what they are and what they say. We explain the documents here, and an experienced personal injury attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, can ensure the content of the documents are in your best interest.
Release of Liability and Claims
Whenever a case is settled and an insurance company pays money for an accident, the victim will have to sign a Release of Liability (also called a “Release”). A Release means that a victim is releasing the parties to the accident from any further liability for the accident. Once an accident victim signs the Release, the claim is closed, and you cannot recover additional money from the parties in the Release. The insurance company will send you the check once they receive the signed Release. Because of the finality of the Release, you should consult with an experienced Atlanta, Georgia, personal injury attorney before committing yourself to those terms.
Property Damage Release (Check)
Property damage usually refers to the damage to your vehicle. Once damaged, your vehicle needs to get repaired or replaced (if totaled). Having a working vehicle is a pressing concern for most accident victims. The insurance company responsible for paying will pay according to the damage:
A totaled vehicle will generally receive the vehicle’s fair market value before the accident.
If your vehicle is damaged but not totaled, you can choose a body shop where your car is repaired. In this situation, the insurance company will directly pay the body shop. Alternatively, the insurance company may offer to pay you the cost of getting your car fixed.
In either case, cashing the check provided by the insurance company is like signing a Release. As a result, your property damage claim is settled, and you cannot recover additional amounts.
Medical Authorization Release
A Medical Authorization Release is often referred to as an “Authorization.” An Authorization gives an insurance company access to all your medical records – this includes all your past medical history and current medical records.
Why does signing an Authorization matter? Remember that your medical records are the main evidence used to calculate how much your personal injury case is worth. The responsible party’s insurance company will pay you for your damages, including medical bills, pain, suffering, and lost wages based on your medical bills. There are many reasons why giving the responsible party access to your medical records is not a good idea:
Doctors’ notes can be used to point out that you are an eggshell plaintiff which makes your case less valuable.
Previous medical history can be used to say that your accident injuries came from a pre-existing condition.
Insurance companies can try to use medical records to prove that there is no relevant causation. In other words, that the accident did not cause your injuries.
Call the Injury and Accident Attorneys at CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm Before You Sign a Release or Authorization in Atlanta, Georgia
A Release of Liability or Authorization are both formal legal documents. The meaning of many of the provisions may not even seem understandable. In addition, the dollar amount on Release documents may not represent the fair value of your case. The injury and accident attorneys and legal professionals at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm are happy to help review your case and your documentation. Do not waste another moment for your free consultation.