There are several steps involved in settling a claim involving a car accident in between the time the first letter from your attorney goes out to the other party's insurance company and you finally receive a check. One of the last steps is when you're asked to sign a waiver of liability or release of claims form.
It's important to understand how you got to this point, what this is, and what it means to you before you sign:
How did you get to this point?
Most car accident claims never make it to the stage where there's actually a lawsuit filed -- somewhere around 95% of claims settle out of court and most of those do so before there are any court filings involved. There's a very simple reason for that to happen: good economic sense.
Since the odds are very good that you wouldn't be filing your claim unless there was a strong likelihood that the other driver was at fault, he or she was probably cited -- so there's often little to dispute except exactly how injured you are and how much those injuries are worth. Filing papers with the court cost money. Depositions are expensive. Expert witnesses are expensive. Neither side of a claim really wants to go down that road if they can reach an agreement about what fair compensation looks like, given your situation.
Unless your attorney had to file a lawsuit to get the insurance company's attention or to get them to start negotiations, you don't really have a lawsuit yet -- you simply have a pending claim with the insurance company and your attorney is doing the negotiating for you (which was a smart move on your part because he or she does this for a living).
Getting to this point means that your attorney and the insurance company have agreed that your claim is probably worth a certain amount of money. That's the figure you're agreeing to take unless you really feel that you should get more money and insist on trying to get more -- which may mean a trial, a lot of time and expense, and the risk of losing.
What exactly is this agreement and what does it mean for you?
A waiver of liability or release of claims form is basically the same thing -- an agreement that you will accept the money offered in compensation for your injuries as payment in full. You won't ask for more later. If you find out, a year from now, that you actually have permanent nerve damage in your neck that the doctors' missed earlier, you can't come back and sue for more money because you've given up that right. That makes it important to be reasonably sure you don't have any unhealed injuries before you sign.
It's also important to understand that the figure you are agreeing to isn't the dollar amount that you're going to receive -- it has to be split with your attorney for his or her work on your behalf. Some of it may also have to go toward paying back your doctors' bills or other expenses. It's important to ask your attorney exactly what dollar amount you'll receive in the end so that you understand what you're agreeing to accept -- before you sign.
For more information about car accident claims and the entire process, talk to a law office like Alexander Law Firm today.