Question: I was in a car accident. The other driver’s insurance company accepted fault. I was injured and have a damaged car. The insurance company was repairing my car, but said they won’t pay for the repairs or my medical bills until I sign a release. What happens if I sign the release and I need further repairs to my car or I have more medical treatment?
Robert’s Answer: The insurance company is taking advantage of you. They are holding you hostage in order to get you to sign a release. Once you sign that release, your claim is effectively over. You will not be able to sue for any further money beyond what has already been paid.
Here a couple things you should do (or should have done) to prevent this from happening:
- Call a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer will be able to get you the treatment you need under a letter of protection, if necessary. Additionally, insurance companies tend to hand cases much differently when an attorney is involved. The insurance company would have fixed your car without requiring a release. They would have dealt with getting a release after the bodily injury part of the claim gets resolved.
- Use your own auto insurance. If you had collision coverage on your car, use it. That’s what it’s there for. Your insurance company will treat better since you are their insured. When you deal with the other insurance company, you are regarded as the claimant and the other driver is the insured. An insurance company has a duty to protect their insured, not the third-party claimant. If you have a deductible, your insurance company will refund it to you once they get reimbursed from the other insurance company.
- Use your own health insurance. You can choose to use your health insurance. This way, you do not have to rely on the other insurance company to get the treatment you need. But using your own health insurance can effect how your bodily injury claim is resolved. Which leads me back to the first option: Call a lawyer!
Once you sign that release, your case is over. I once had a potential client come to my office. She was injured in a car accident. She had been treating with her doctor for the past two months. However, early on in the case, she had signed a release for a measly $2,000. I regretfully told her I could not help her.
Don’t find yourself in a helpless situation. The insurance adjusters know your rights better than you do. Get a lawyer on your side!