Three Things To Do Before Signing A Personal Injury Release Agreement

When you receive an injury settlement, the insurance company will ask you to sign a release agreement. This agreement prevents you from raising future claims about the same injury. In essence, it "releases" the defendant from the liability it owes you. Here are three things you should do before signing such an agreement.

Study It

The release agreement is likely to be broad and long. Therefore, it's very tempting to gloss over it and sign it without much scrutiny. However, that would be a mistake because you need to know exactly what you are signing. Blind signing is not good because you may not have a chance to change your mind if you later find out that you don't agree with one of the clauses. Ask your lawyer about any clause you do not understand. This is true not only for a release agreement but also for any legal document.

Be Aware of Future Claims

It's not uncommon for defendants to include language that bars any future claims. Unfortunately, you may not be aware of some injuries or agreements while signing the release agreement on your current injuries. Consider an example in which you are seeking compensation from a chemical factory that polluted your landscape and damaged your plants. Such a defendant can ask you to sign a release agreement that bars you from making any future claims. What about if you later learn that the same company dumped another chemical that has caused you cancer?

Restrict It to Your Own Person

One of the worst things you can do is to accept a release agreement that binds you to other people's activities. This is dangerous because you can't control what other people do. For example, there may be a clause seeking to make you responsible for the legal costs associated with any subsequent litigation after the release, even if they are brought by other people. A good example is a class action suit that other potential plaintiffs may instigate. It's best to shield yourself from such language by having your lawyer insert a clause that restricts the release to your own person.

Release agreements are drafted by the defendant's attorney; this often means the insurance company's lawyers. They tend to contain a lot of boilerplate languages and legal jargon. Therefore, you shouldn't be too surprised if you don't understand most of it. Fortunately, injury lawyers are used to such things, and consulting one, like Welsh & Welsh PC LLO, will clarify all the issues for you.