Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
You could be offered a settlement agreement at any time after a car accident. Depending on which party caused the accident, the settlement could be from your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer.
An insurance settlement agreement – also known as a release agreement – is legally binding. Once you sign the agreement and accept the check, you give up the right to seek further compensation for your injuries or damages.
Here’s what you should know about accepting a car accident settlement agreement before you cash the check. Feel free to call an attorney at Kisling, Nestico & Redick to review your settlement agreement to ensure it is fair.
Understand Your Insurance Policy
While a settlement agreement does not depend upon your insurance policy, it can influence the outcome. Knowing what your policy covers and does not cover will help you decide how to work the agreement.
Insurance may or may not cover the following:
- Rental car
- Aftermarket upgrades such as oversize tires or sound systems
- Verified condition of your car before the accident – ask your mechanic
- Bodily injuries – short or possibly long-term medical bills
- Replacement value if your vehicle is totaled
- Lost wages
Itemize Your Damages
You will want to make a list of all damages and their approximate value. You should know if your insurance pays to replace lost or damaged items – or if they offer depreciated value. You might have to do some research to determine a fair price for older items.
The insurance company will want documentation of your losses, such as receipts and bills. Keep the original and make copies to send to the insurance company. Never give them your original documentation.
Subrogation Reduces Your Total Settlement
You cannot collect twice for the same loss. You will either deduct the insurance company’s payment from the settlement or repay the insurance company separately. This process is called subrogation.
Subrogation does not include your out-of-pocket costs; it applies only to what insurance has paid.
Think Short-Term and Long-Term Costs
Short-term costs are your immediate out-of-pocket expenses, such as towing, car rental, and hospitalization. Long-term costs are typically medically related effects that linger for weeks, months, or even the rest of your life.
If you have injuries that need physical or rehabilitative therapy or long-term medical care, get an estimate from your healthcare provider. Your insurance might cover these expenses, but if not, you might be able to negotiate them into your final settlement.
Review the Document Carefully
A car accident settlement agreement includes a release of legal liability. You promise never to sue the other party, and typically, you agree not to reveal the settlement details.
The agreement will include:
- Your name as the one releasing the right to further action against the at-fault party
- The name of the at-fault party
- The date and location of the accident
- The amount of money owed you in exchange for your release
Check that your name, address, and other information are complete and accurate.
Consult a Lawyer Before You Sign
A car accident settlement agreement is a legal contract. You give up any claim to further compensation or legal action, so it is wise to consult a car injury lawyer before you sign and accept a check.
A member of our legal team will gladly review your offer and tell you if it is fair compensation based on our experience. Call Kisling, Nestico & Redick today at 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free consultation.