The simple answer is DO NOT SIGN A RELEASE until you seek the advice of legal counsel.
Some questions back to you are: What are your exact injuries? Do you have outstanding medical bills? What are the facts surrounding the wreck?
If the wreck was the other driver’s fault, you will most likely have a negligence claim against the party that caused your injuries. The party that caused the wreck will most likely have liability insurance to cover the losses you sustained. (An uninsured driver issue is a whole other topic.)
However, dealing with insurance companies on any claim can be frustrating, confusing and aggravating. You can easily be taken advantage of if you do not fully understand how to process and negotiate a personal injury claim.
The bottom line is, there is no way to know the entire value of your case until you are fully treated medically. More importantly, not all injuries can be easily or immediately diagnosed following a motor vehicle accident. Many injuries are latent, not manifesting themselves fully for months or even years. Additional damages you could be entitled to include compensation for lost wages, future medical care, job retraining, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
As far as a release is concerned, it is crucial to understand that once a release is signed, your negligence claim is closed forever. With a release, the liability insurance company and negligent driver are basically ‘buying’ your closure on the claim or lawsuit. Be extremely cautious with any release!
Please understand that if you are the injured victim of a negligent driver, you will only have 2 years from the date of the wreck to file a formal lawsuit. Once the two years is up, the ‘statute of limitations’ sets in, and you will be barred from filing a lawsuit for damages. In other words, you have lost your right to recover any money once the statute has run!
The basics of what to do in the event you are in a car/truck wreck:
- Call the police at the scene so that a report can be made;
- If you suspect the negligent driver has been drinking or is on drugs, tell the police officer immediately.
- Take photos at the scene if you have a camera handy; take photos of your property damage.
- If you are injured, seek immediate medical treatment at a facility you trust. If you need an ambulance at the scene, don’t be afraid to ask the officer to call one for you.
- Seek out an attorney in your area you trust to evaluate your case. Most, if not all, personal injury attorneys should give you a free initial consultation.
- Do not give any statements to insurance companies unless you have consulted legal counsel first. These statements are usually recorded and can be used against you later on if there is a deposition or trial.
- Keep a record of all your medical bills, receipts, and photos to properly document your claim.
- Always follow your physicians orders.
Gregg Harrison is an Attorney with offices in Cypress, Houston, and Corpus Christi, Texas. Gregg has negotiated settlements and/or obtained verdicts on numerous auto wreck cases in Texas. Gregg can be reached anytime for legal issues or questions at 832-797-7600 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gregg is also available to speak on numerous issues. Click here to invite Gregg to speak at your event.