I was in an accident with someone whose insurance company accepted 100% liability. In addition to repairs on the car, they offered me $500.00 for injury inconvenience. I sustained only minor injury and did not seek medical attention. They sent the injury inconvenience check 6 weeks before my car was repaired. On the check it states: FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT OF ALL CLAIMS DEMANDS AND LIENS. They refuse to reissue another check with the correct reason for the claim. I need to file additional claims against them, but if I cash this check as is what are my chances of collecting what is owed to me?
Insurance Law Lawyer
Because the payment is stating that it is for "FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT OF ALL CLAIMS DEMANDS AND LIENS", the insurance company will treat it as such and most likely refuse to pay you any additional money for the physical injury portion of your claim. Most carriers treat the property and the bodily injury claims separately. So, you would most likely still be able to get your car fixed even if you cash that check. BUT, you should confirm this with the insurance company beforehand AND follow up with a letter outlining the conversation and your understanding of the consequences of cashing their check.
Hope this helps!
I think you are right in your interpretation of the settlement language, "FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT OF ALL CLAIMS DEMANDS AND LIENS." A common sense and reasonable reading of that language would indicate you have completely settled ALL claims.
The first response is correct in that property damage and personal injury claims are usually handled separately by insurance adjusters. However, that doesn't mean that if you endorse the check, the insurance company can't strong arm you from collecting any further settlement, including property damage claims. You will be presumed to have read and fully understood the terms which you accepted, FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT OF ALL CLAIMS DEMANDS AND LIENS.
I'm not sure I completely understand your question, though. It sounds like you received the "inconvenience check" 6 weeks before your car was repaired, which means your car was repaired. Who authorized and/or paid for the car repair? Have you checked with the body shop to see if that repair bill has been paid? If it has been paid by the at-fault driver's insurance, and you didn't require any medical treatment for your injuries, because they were relatively minor and short term, I can't tell you that $500.00 is an unreasonable settlement offer.
The "lien" part probably refers to potential hospital liens, health insurance liens, Medicare and/or Medicaid lien. Hospital, Medicare and Medicaid liens are statutory liens. The health insurance lien would be contractual. There is a lot to discuss about these kinds of liens and their implications in personal injury cases. However...in your situation, if you haven't received any medical treatment at a hospital within 72 hours of your wreck that may be subject to a hospital lien, or that has been paid for by Medicare, Medicaid or health insurance, then your settlement funds wouldn't be subject to any lien.
When you ask, "what are my chances of collecting what is owed to me," my question to you would be, what do you believe is still owed to you that hasn't been or isn't being paid? Again, if your property damage has been paid, I can't tell you that $500.00 is an unreasonable settlement for your injury/inconvenience claims if you didn't have more than temporary injuries and didn't require any medical treatment.
If your property damage has been repaired but not paid for by the at-fault driver's insurance, my recommendation is that you need to be sure that it gets paid before you endorse the check. If the “inconvenience check” is about to expire, and you still need the property damage paid, and don’t need medical treatment, tell the at-fault driver's insurance adjuster you don’t accept their terms. You are going to make a counteroffer and add the following language to the settlement check, “EXCEPT FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIMS.” Deposit the check but don’t spend it until you are certain the at-fault driver's insurance company has accepted your counteroffer.
DISCLAIMER: Please know that this answer is being provided to you in response to the limited information contained in your submission and should be considered for informational and/or educational purposes only. This response does not establish any attorney client privilege or relationship between you and me, as a responding attorney, and my post certainly does not attempt to counsel you on any of the pertinent legal facts and/or implications concerning your issue. To fully investigate and determine your legal rights, should you so choose, I recommend that you promptly consult with an attorney of your choosing as time may be of the essence.
Personal Injury Lawyer
By cashing the check, you are accepting the conditions that come with the check. In this case, you would be precluded from making any additional claims. This is a game that insurers like to play after an accident. They hope that you will cash this check, knowing that you may need some money to address pressing needs, and they walk away spending very little to settle a claim.
If you have injuries, you need to get your injuries accessed by a medical professional before you can make an assessment of your damages. This is where a personal injury attorney, versed in making an accurate assessment, will be of help.
If you were not injured, I would not cash the check. I have had several clients accept a small settlement check from a non-injury producing accident only to have to fight harder to get full compensation for injuries from a subsequent accident because of an argument that the injuries stem from the first collision. The $500 is simply not worth precluding any future damages should you be involved in another accident; and would not be warranted since you were not injured in the first place.
You should contact some personal injury attorneys in your area who can walk you through the steps and help determine whether you need to hire an attorney. It should not cost you anything for a consultation and an assessment.