What’s an Accident Release Form? Should I Sign One When I’m Offered a Settlement?

If you’re injured in a car accident, you’ll probably deal with an insurance company in some capacity. This is certainly true if you decide to file an insurance claim with someone else’s insurance provider. It’s important to understand that insurance companies have one interest: protecting their bottom line. They’ll do whatever they can to limit the amount of money you receive after an accident.

One way insurers will protect themselves – and not you – is by making your settlement offer contingent on an accident release form. They’ll play it off as just a “routine” piece of paperwork that needs to accompany your financial payout. However, it’s important to know that signing an accident release form will affect your ability to get any additional money in the future.

What is an Accident Release Form?

An accident release form is a private contract between you and the person who’s agreed to compensate you for your injuries. By signing the form, you essentially waive your right to seek additional money in the future.

It won’t matter if the settlement you accepted is way less than you need to cover all of your costs and expenses. It won’t matter if you realize that your injuries are much more serious than you first believed.

If you sign the release form, you’ll be out of luck in getting additional compensation from the insurance company or the person who caused your accident. You’ve waived that right.

Insurance Companies Will Press You to Settle Early

The easiest way for an insurance company to limit the amount of money it pays after an accident is by intervening early on in the process. When it’s clear that their insured driver is at fault, they may be quick to call you to discuss a settlement.

Why? There are a few reasons:

  • They’re hoping you’re shaken up after your accident, which they’ll try to use to their advantage.
  • It takes times to fully appreciate the extent of your injuries, how they’ll affect your life, and the value of your case.
  • It’s less likely that you’ll have had the time to consult with an attorney, which gives insurance companies a bit of an edge during discussions.

Insurance companies can’t deny your claim in bad faith. However, they can offer you a lowball settlement, play on your emotions, and manipulate you into accepting an amount that is much less than you deserve. And they will. They know that they’re much more likely to get you to accept a lowball offer if it’s on the table early. This is especially true if you haven’t had the chance to discuss your case with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer yet.

You Risk Losing Valuable Compensation If You Accept an Early Offer and Sign a Release

When you’re in a car accident in Los Angeles, you can sustain a wide range of injuries. Some of those injuries will be clearly identifiable right away: cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones. On the other hand, some injuries may not be evident at first. You may not notice signs of whiplash, brain injuries, and spinal cord damage until days, or even weeks, after your accident. These catastrophic injuries can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your life.

If you accept a settlement offer right away, you might miss out on compensation for these severe, and at the time unknown, injuries. When you sign the accident release form, you basically say that the amount of money you’re accepting today is all that you’ll be getting to compensate for your injuries.

Money can be incredibly tight after an accident. A settlement offer may be incredibly appetizing. However, don’t let a small cash payout today jeopardize your financial security down the line. Patience can be rewarded in these situations. Discuss your case with an attorney before you begin to entertain settlement offers. Your future can depend on it.