June 4, 2015
Don't sign a release too soon. Several clients have come to me within days of an accident and after meeting with a representative of the insurance company for the other driver. They tell me the company is offering $500 for pain and suffering and will pay the medical bills up to $3000. They ask if they should sign the release form. My answer is always an unequivocal "No."
The Risks of Signing a Release Form After an Accident
Once a release is signed the claim is done and re-opening it is next to impossible. So, if the neck pain ends up lingering and requiring extensive therapy and ultimately surgery, it won't matter. The person who signed the release will be stuck with $500 for all they have been through and will be responsible for all medical bills once the $3000 is used up.
There is no reason to take such a risk because there is no rush to settle a claim. In California a person injured in a car accident has two years in which to file a lawsuit or settle the claim. During that time the other parties insurance carrier may threaten to close their file. That is fine. When you call back after the full consequences are understood, they will re-open it.
Following these simple steps will make sure you are protected and properly informed to present a claim. If you believe the other driver's insurance carrier isn't treating you fairly, contact a legal professional. Consultations with an injury attorney are free of charge and nearly all work on a contingent basis which means if there is no recovery, there is no fee.