The usual point of the general release is the settling forever of any and all claims, known and unknown, between the parties, for a sum of money, that is considered as valuable consideration.
That is the reason for the check. Without the release, you would not have the check. A better way to try to get more money to settle, is not to settle and not to sign a general release.
Of course, there may be something wrong with the process and or with the release, and while this may not be the best time to see an attorney, it is the appropriate advice for you, in this situation.
The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.
I assume you have an attorney and you must speak to your attorney and get a detailed explanation of the status of your case. As explained by my colleague, you only received the settlement check because you signed a release of liability for that party. If there is another party (defendant) who is involved you may have not released them, but there are too many variables to provide an accurate opinion. You must talk to your attorney or get a second opinion from an attorney who has access to review the case and the papers with you.
All comments and/or opinions are for general information, and do not create an attorney-client relationship. In order to obtain a comprehensive and accurate legal opinion you should consult an attorney with the specific and detailed facts or your case/question.
The fact that YOU received the settlement check implies that you don't have an attorney; otherwise the check would have been issued payable to both of you. Unless there was something unfair about the release, and you can convince (ultimately) a court of that, the release is binding when it is signed: you agreed not to sue whoever it was, and they agreed to pay you, which they now have done. As one of my colleagues observed, if there are defendants not covered by the release, then you can still pursue them.
Sometimes insurance companies will obtain a release from an accident victim, shortly after the accident, and before the victim obtains counsel. If that is your case, you should consult with the appropriate counsel (personal injury?) before you cash the check. This is one instance where the release may be voidable, particularly if it is for much less than your case is really worth.
I suggest, again, that you personally consult a local counsel. Looking on this website would be a good way to find one.
The foregoing answer does not establish an attorney client relationship, is not confidential, and should not be relied upon in place of an actual consultation with an attorney. Mr. Boone is licensed to practice in Massachusetts, before the U.S. Tax Court, and the Federal District Court of Massachusetts. Most initial consultations are free. Further information is available on my profile and at www.boonehenkofflaw.com.
Generally, signing of the release is evidence that the settlement has been reached but you should contact your attorney to discuss this particular case and see if there may be additional requirements that must be met to perfect the settlement.
You should seek qualified legal counsel to review the language of the release and prior to cashing/depositing the check.
This information is for education purposes only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice, legal opinion or as a complete answer/information to/for this discussion. You should always seek competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your area for help with your specific legal question. No attorney - client relationship is created, intended or should be construed upon from this general discussion.