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Is a "Release Of All Claims" form standard when it comes to settling a medical claim resulting from a car accident in CA?

Los Angeles, CA |

I was in a car accident in California about a year and a half ago. I was not at fault (rear-ended), had whiplash and a mild concussion, and was treated for a few months with physical therapy. However, at the time of the accident, I did not have medical coverage in my auto policy (lesson learned). Therefore, I had to pay all of my medical co-pays as I was being treated, and am seeking reimbursement from the other party's auto insurance company. To settle my medical claim, the other party's insurance company is making me sign a "California Release Of All Claims" form to get reimbursed for the final amount of my medical bills. I'm wondering if this is a pretty standard way to settle these types of claims, and if there's anything that I should be aware of.

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Attorney answers 14

Posted

That's a standard requirement. You should consult with a lawyer to make sure you are getting a fair settlement. A concussion is a serious injury.

This is not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. You should contact an attorney for further information.

Posted

You should be aware that you are probably not getting a fair settlement amount without an attorney.

Posted

A release of all claims will always be a prerequisite to settlement. The better question is whether you are receiving adequate compensation for your injuries, which depends on how low you've been able to negotiate your health insurance company's lien on your settlement, your medical bills, projected future medical bills, loss of earnings, and more.

http://www.johnphillipslaw.com

This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.

Posted

Yes, it is standard to sign a release of all claims.

Posted

Not so fast. If you are signing a release of all claims in exchange for having your medical bills paid, you are giving up your right to recover for property damage (unless your company has paid you and subrogated)and you are giving up your right to an award of damages for bodily injury and lost earnings, as well as other expenses. (That is, if you meet the threshold for bodily injury in California.) Don't sign anything until you consult with a local lawyer. You may find one using the find a lawyer function on Avvo.

I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not intended to be taken as legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.

Posted

I hope you are being fairly compensated not only for your medical bills, but also any wage loss; loss of business; future medical expenses; property damages; AND for pain & suffering. I strongly advise you to call a California personal injury attorney before you sign a Release Of All Claims (which will forever bar you from any further payment related to your accident). Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation; do yourself a big favor & call one ASAP

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.

Posted

It's standard, but as others have said they might be robbing you if they're not paying for the bills, any lost income, as well as pain and suffering.

Posted

Yes

Posted

You have a right to claim pain and suffering, usually. Also, if you were married at the time your spouse may have a claim for loss of consortuim as well. You should really think about runing this by an attorney.

Posted

While these forms tend to be generally standard, the substance of the form is far more significant than the title of the document. Your attorney should review the form to make sure the scope of settlement is appropriate. Also, as my colleagues noted above, make sure you are being compensated for all claims available to you, and not just the medical bills submitted, as you may be entitled to a number of other damages claims touched upon by others above.

Best of luck to you.

Posted

In any claim against an insurance company protecting someone else the only thing you have to offer in exchange for money is a release of all claims. The issue, as always, is whether you are getting enough money for your release.

Posted

I would like to add that having an attorney review the "Release of all Claims" is extremely important. Especially if there are still claims pending, such as a "under-insured motorist claim." If you are only settling one portion of the claim, the language in the release may bar you from bringing any other claims resulting from the accident. It is necessary to make sure that the release you are signing is specific to the company you are signing it for and only releases that company from further claims.

Posted

The answer is unfortunately yes. While insurance companies may pay your medical bills in undisputed liability cases, they never do with a full and final settlement. You should be careful not to settle your case until you know the extent of your injuries. The settlement will be final and you cannot claim any further settlement even if you thought your injuries were less severe than you thought.

Please be advised that my responses to questions on Avvo are meant for informational purposes ONLY and do not create any type of attorney-client relationship or preserve any rights and statutes relating to the individual claim.

Posted

You have to be very careful before signing a release that will release ALL claims. If you do not plan to pursue any claims for property damage or bodily injury and are satisfied with the medical bills settlement then the release would be standard fair. However, if you don't feel that you've been completely reimbursed then it's important to speak with an attorney.