What general precautions should I look out for while signing the release after setting a personal injury lawsuit?
The most important aspect is to understand what is covered under the release. In virtually all personal injury releases, it will encompass all known and unknown claims (a waiver of Civil Code section 1542), which means you are giving up your right to claim future medical bills and future loss earnings even if you don't anticipate any right at this moment.
Secondly, if there is a potential that the defendant has a claim against the plaintiff, make sure the release is a "mutual" general release.
You have to make sure that you fully understand that the release will fully and forever release all future medical benefits & treatments, future wage loss; and future damages for pain & suffering. In my opinion settling a personal injury claim, other than a very, very minor claim, should never be done without the advice of a personal injury attorney - and I strongly recommend that you do just that!!
Generally a release will require that you release the releasing party from all past and future claims arising from the claims and causes of actions asserted in your claim. You need to particularly look at the terms of the release regarding the claims you are releasing. Yo also need to see if there are any confidentiality provisions. If you have a lawyer should go through the terms with your lawyer.
Without seeing the release, it is difficult to give any meaningful specific advice. there could be things in the release you are being asked to sign that could be an issue. The comments of the others are proper, but cant be considered to be "complete" answers. There could be language that releases other persons, who should not be released. There could be indemnity provisions, etc.
My number one red flag is you having to ask us here on AVVO what to be concerned about in signing a release!
Where is your attorney? If he or she has not given you a comfort level about signing the release, then do not sign it. Find an attorney who can help you understand and will make you comfortable about signing.
I've been posting my biased opinions and comments here and there on the Internet and Avvo for a while now (since Al Gore invented the online attorney forums, I believe), and every time I see a post about a person doing battle all by his or her non-lawyer self against an insurance company, I keep thinking the post might as well read something like, “my no-insurance nephew needs to get that brain aneurysm removed, but it’s located right near his mah-doola. His headaches have gotten so bad he's up to eight cans of Meister Bräu a day for the pain. So, what I need to know is whether I should go in using a through the back of his thick skull or through his big mouth...”
No one should handle any claim (involving a motor vehicle accident with bodily injury) against any insurance company without a lawyer. Claims should be handled by a lawyer - one who will be able to understand and explain the physical damages and injuries from accident. The victim of a car accident really needs to worry about one thing - getting better. That means attending doctor's appointments, attending physical therapy (if appropriate), and taking his or her medication. All of the rest can be handled by a personal injury attorney. We earn our fees (contingent by the way) by taking on the stress and hassle of fighting for money - I dare say some of us actually enjoy the fight, but I realize that most people do not enjoy conflict.
We personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. We handle cases on a contingent basis. We actually love the game, the battling, the negotiations, the tactics, etc. An injured person should just worry about getting better.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
Corona, CA 92879
www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com
"When you need a lawyer, call the Doctor... Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D... Call (888)MDJDLAW."
* This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.
** Fransen & Molinaro, LLP practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.
You should have your attorney review the release to make sure that the language is appropriate and that you are not giving up any additional rights nor taking on responsibilities, such as indemnifying for lien problems, that was not agreed to in the settlement negotiations. Your attorney is in the best position to protect you.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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