Can I seek punitive damages after verbal agreement release after car accident?
Geico has accepted responsibility and is offering me for pain and injury, $970 for lost wages & prescriptions. In order for them to release the money, I am to verbally agree to indemnify and hold harmless Geico, the policy holder & the driver from any further claims in relation to any injury or disease related to the accident. Does this agreement prevent me from going after the driver to small claims court for punitive damages for his shear recklessness. (max here is $12K). Thank you!
4 attorney answers
The attorneys in this forum will always try to give you the best information possible given the facts that are presented. However, probably 99% of the time, the main theme you will see in any answer is to obtain whatever medical treatment you need for your injuries and then to consult with an attorney, as there is no possible way that any attorney in this forum, based on the limited amount of facts that can be given, can address the issues in full. This is not because attorneys are just trying to get your business but because we know that insurance companies don’t always treat unrepresented claimants fairly.
I’m not saying that all insurance companies are going to try to cheat you by any means, however. I handled lawsuits as an insurance adjuster for thirty-three (33) years for three (3) of the larger insurance companies in the U.S. Those companies always attempted the best they could to be fair and came up with a fair and reasonable settlement range for injury cases most of the time.
However, what you have to understand is that even the most reasonable insurance carriers are going to offer you the lower end of what they consider a reasonable settlement range and try to get you to take it. All insurance companies are in the business of making money and saving on costs and are not in the business of spending money like a drunken sailor. The less than reasonable insurance companies will not be as kind as some of the larger companies out there. Don’t try to handle your case on your own. Stop trying to deal with the insurance company yourself. That's like a two-year-old stepping into the octagon to face an MMA champion.
Your best bet to obtain the maximum injury settlement amount in this case is to consult immediately with an attorney in your area to obtain a more specific answer and get all of your legal options before deciding what to do and then also complete all medical treatment necessary for any injuries you received. The attorney will also investigate any liability issue and check for all available coverages to ensure you have the maximum amount of coverages available to you. You may have some coverages on your own auto policy as well that can assist you. You can use the "Find a Lawyer" link at the top of this page for the names of attorneys in your area. Most offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t have to pay anything up front.
Please do not message me for further advice or call my former law firm if you have any further questions. If you are in need of an attorney to assist you, please search for another attorney in the jurisdiction involved in your case, as I am now retired, and my former law firm is no longer handling these types of cases. I am active on AVVO and answer questions only as a public service at this point.
IMPORTANT: No attorney-client relationship is formed through interaction with this attorney on this public forum. The contents of any comment or response should be considered general conversational discourse on the topic identified and NOT specific legal advice or analysis that might apply to your situation. If you rely upon any part of the content of this response in making any decision or pursuing any course of action, you do so at your own risk and without recourse against this attorney or law firm.
1- You're confusing a lot of different issues
2- You're making a huge mistake trying to do this by yourself without a lawyer
3- On the facts you describe, in light of the DUI, you will not be subject to the limited tort selection
4- If you sign a Release, depending on the language (which you won't know how to change) it's very likely you will not be able to make a claim later for punitive damages
5- You need to get a consult ASAP with an experienced injury lawyer so you don't mess up your claim & leave money on the table. Most of us provide a free consult. Don't wait- do it now!!!!
Disclaimer- This response is not intended to establish any attorney-client relationship. This response only provides general information which may not be applicable to your particular situation. You should contact an attorney for a complete review in order to receive a formal legal opinion.
I completely agree with Attorney Corchnoy. This is a classic case of the insurance company lowballing you for a quick settlement. A consultation should be free and you should start calling for one NOW. There is no need to rush into a settlement, the accident wasn't even 3 months ago. you have 2 years to file suit.
You need to speak with a personal injury attorney ASAP. While yo elected the limited tort option, based on the facts you describe, you are likley not to be bound by it and will be deemed to have the full tort option because the insured driver (presuming that he had permission to drive the vehicle or would be legally deemed to have had permission) is likely to be convicted for a DUI.
You should be entitled to pain and suffering for your injuries something you will not get what you are entitled without an attorney. The adjuster is already not telling you the truth. He has no interest in resolving this claim for what it actually is worth; he works for the other guy - NOT YOU.
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