Whether or not you should sign an insurance company release is a complex question. By signing an insurance release of claims form, you are formalizing the settlement offer from the insurance company that will result in a payment to you within 30 days. When you sign, you also waive all future claims for that accident or injury. Your decision to sign a release depends on the contents of the document and the details of your accident.
Before you sign a release and agree to a settlement, it is important that you understand how your injury case will be impacted. If the settlement agreement is reasonable, signing the release could bring your case to a favorable conclusion. But if you’ve been seriously injured, signing a release without the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney could put an accident victim at risk of missing out on the full and fair compensation you deserve.
In this Article
What Is a Release of Claim Form, and What Does It Do?
A release of claim form is a legal document that specifies the terms and conditions of your settlement agreement with an insurance company. It will typically include details relating your bodily injury claim, including the amount agreed upon for damages caused by the accident. It also includes a clause releasing all claims against the responsible party and their insurance company in exchange for the agreed-upon settlement amount.
When There Might Not Be an Insurance Release Form
In some instances, the insurance company may not require you to sign a release before making a payment. A claim with your own insurance company, for example, may not require you to sign a release of all claims form. In most cases though, when you’re getting money for an accident from an insurance company, there will probably be a release of claims for you to sign.
Do I Have to Sign Release Forms Before I Get My Settlement Check?
In most cases, yes, there will be an insurance company release form to sign before you get your settlement check. Under Illinois Law 735 ILCS 5/2-2301, sometimes referred to as the Prompt Pay Statute, a release form must be given to a plaintiff within 14 days of written confirmation of the settlement. Payment must then be made to the injured party within 30 days after this release is signed.
When Should I Sign a Release of Claim Form?
There are many instances where it makes sense to sign a release of claim form and accept the insurance company’s offer.
When There Is No Injury Claim
If you’ve been in a car accident and there are no injuries, the sooner you sign a property damage release, the sooner you will get you car fixed. If you find that the settlement offer is fair, signing a release of claim form can help you get your car fixed quickly and without any hassle.
When There Is an Injury Claim
When there is an injury claim involved, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney before signing a release of claims form. An experienced accident lawyer can review the details of your personal injury case to make sure you are not waiving your rights to seek compensation for medical treatment you need. Once you and your attorney have confirmed that the insurance company’s settlement offer is fair and covers your medical expenses and other damages, you can sign the form and receive your settlement check.
When Should I NOT Sign an Insurance Release Form?
There are many personal injury cases where it is important to have the insurance release form reviewed by personal injury attorneys before you sign it. When you have been seriously injured, it is in your best interest to consult a personal injury lawyer before signing anything. You need to make sure that all of the necessary provisions are included in the release form, and that you understand the implications of signing it.
What If I Get an Offer By Phone?
If an insurance adjuster calls, they may sympathize with you and make an offer that sounds good. This can be as binding as a form and if you’ve accepted a few thousand dollars plus medical bills for the next three months but your injuries don’t go away, you could be in trouble. Specialists are expensive and what you thought was a small injury can escalate to something more permanent. This is why it’s important to consult with a lawyer to get what’s fair.
What Happens If I Sign a Release of Claim Form and My Injuries Get Worse?
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to seek additional compensation from an insurance company after a release of claim form has been signed. For example, if you were rear-ended, you might not be too worried about a sore neck, and want to get your car repaired right away so it can be driven again. In order to get the car repaired, you will probably need to sign an insurance release form.
It is critical that you read the release and make sure that you are only signing a release for property damage that will in no way serve to extinguish any personal injury claim related to the same date of loss. You want to make sure of this because this is a legally binding document and if it says you waive all future claims, you will no longer be able to seek compensation for medical bills if your sore neck turns out to be the first symptoms of a spine injury and you need further treatment to regain full mobility.
Signed Releases Are Strictly Enforced in Illinois
These types of signed releases for accident claims are very strictly enforced in Illinois. There would have to be a very wide disparity to get it undone, like a profound injury that was settled for $100. Another uncommon instance where it might be undone is if a person with disabilities was taken advantage of and did not understand what they were signing.