Why You Should Never Sign a Release Immediately After a Car Crash

Why You Should Never Sign a Release Immediately After a Car Crash

In the immediate chaos following a car crash, adrenaline surges through the body, often masking pain and injuries. It’s a natural defense mechanism that can unfortunately lead to a deceptive sense of well-being. This temporary adrenaline rush is why injuries sustained in car crashes may not become apparent until hours, days, or even weeks later. For Floridians, understanding the potential delayed onset of injuries is crucial, not only for your health but also for your legal rights and financial recovery.

If you hastily sign a settlement release form without considering its full impact, you could be inadvertently locking yourself into several unfavorable positions:

  1. As a result of the release, you may forfeit your ability to seek justice in court. This should only be done after a careful review by a personal injury attorney who can determine whether it is in your best interests.
  2. You might also be unknowingly surrendering the chance to request compensation from other individuals or entities that could be responsible. The specific wording of the release form might restrict you from bringing forth any future claims related to the incident, including those connected to potential medical negligence during your post-accident care. It’s crucial to scrutinize the language of any release document. Again, this review should be done with the assistance of a lawyer.
  3. Another risk is unintentionally giving up your right to claim further financial support. Discovering too late that your injuries are more severe means little when a release form has been finalized. Insurers often cover immediate medical expenses and property damage but might omit compensation for non-tangible losses such as emotional trauma or long-term suffering.
  4. There’s also the danger of inadvertently giving up your first-party benefits. Without precise language, your execution of the release form could release your insurers—whether it’s health, disability, or workers’ compensation—from the duty to cover future claims. Your rights to these benefits must remain intact.

The Insurance Company’s Swift Settlement Offer

It’s a common tactic for insurance companies to swoop in with a quick settlement offer following a crash. The promise of “fast cash” can be tempting to anyone injured in an accident. However, this expedited process is designed to serve the insurer’s interests, not the injured party. Accepting such an offer typically requires signing a release that frees the insurance company from any further claims. Accepting a release can prevent future compensation for injuries that reveal themselves down the line.

The Consequences of Early Settlement: A Lifetime Burden

If injuries manifest later, the earlier acceptance of a quick payout can evolve from a momentary relief into a lifelong regret. For example, conditions like whiplash, concussions, or internal injuries may not immediately present symptoms. Victims who have prematurely signed a release forfeiting their right to further claims may later face chronic pain, crippling medical bills, and an inability to work—all without the opportunity to seek additional compensation.

Recoverable Damages for Car Accident Injury Treatments

In Florida, individuals harmed in car accidents have the right to recover a variety of damages that encompass both economic and non-economic losses. For a comprehensive understanding of your rights and the types of damages that may be pertinent to your case, consult the official guidance as outlined in the ‘Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases’, specifically section 501.2 regarding Personal Injury and Property Damages: Elements.[1] Importantly, these potential recoveries extend beyond immediate medical expenses:

  1. Past Medical Expenses: Covers all healthcare costs incurred from the accident injury treatment until the settlement or judgment.
  2. Future Medical Expenses: Accounts for estimated ongoing medical care resulting from the accident, which must be “reasonably certain to occur.”[2]
  3. Past Lost Wages: Reimburses for the income lost due to the inability to work in the aftermath of the accident.
  4. Future Lost Wages: Provides for the loss of earning capacity if the injuries impact the victim’s ability to work in the future.
  5. Pain and Suffering: Compensates for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident, which includes a decreased quality of life.

Each of these categories reflects damages that can dramatically impact an accident victim’s life and should never be overlooked in haste to settle.

If you’re hurt in an accident covered by Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws (see sections 627.730-627.7405 of the Florida Statutes), and you receive or are entitled to receive benefits under that PIP coverage, then you cannot seek the same expenses as damages in a lawsuit. Essentially, any costs covered by your PIP insurance cannot also be claimed in court to get additional payment.[3]

Protecting Your Interests Post-Accident

If you’re involved in a car crash in Florida, remember that your well-being is a top priority. Before engaging in any settlement discussions with insurance companies, consider the full scope of your injuries — both seen and unseen. Consult with healthcare providers to understand your physical condition thoroughly and with a Florida personal injury attorney to ascertain your legal position fully.

The aftermath of a car accident extends far beyond the moment of impact. It’s about safeguarding your future against the unseen and ensuring that you don’t settle for less than you deserve. Financial compensation is a critical aspect of recovery, and it should fully reflect the physical and emotional toll an accident has imposed on your life.

With Lipinski Law, you’re not just getting legal representation. You’re gaining a dedicated advocate who will stand by you at every turn, from understanding immediate medical expenses to fighting for damages that cover your long-term needs and losses. We understand the profound impact a car accident can have on your life and we’re here to offer the personalized legal guidance you need to safeguard your future.

Remember, an initial settlement offer is just that—an offer. It’s the starting point of a negotiation, not the end of the road. Make sure it’s a fair reflection of all you’ve lost, and all you stand to lose before you agree to sign on the dotted line. Contact the car accident attorneys at Lipinski Law for a consultation to explore your rights and legal options.[4]Together, we can strive for the justice and peace of mind you deserve following an accident.

[1] https://www.floridabar.org/rules/florida-standard-jury-instructions/civil-jury-instructions/civil-instructions/#500

[2] Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Tompkins, 651 So. 2d 89, 90 (Fla. 1995). https://casetext.com/case/auto-owners-ins-co-v-tompkins

[3] Caruso v. Baumle, 880 So. 2d 540, 544 (Fla. 2004).

[4] Lipinski Law practice areas: Auto Accidents https://lipinskilaw.com/jupiter-car-accident-lawyer/

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