CAN I SETTLE MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE BY MYSELF?
If you have been injured in a car accident in Georgia, more than likely the other driver’s insurance company will make some effort to settle your claim. When they try to settle your case, they will require that you sign a “release”. A release is a contract in which the injured party agrees to give up certain legal claims in exchange for a settlement. In Georgia, when you find yourself dealing with a release following an accident, you will see two types of releases: GENERAL RELEASES and LIMITED LIABILITY RELEASES. If you have been involved in a serious car accident, it is really important that you understand how these different types of releases can affect your ability to obtain a full recovery of the money that you are entitled to.
GENERAL RELEASE OF LIABILITY
When you sign a general release, you give up any and all rights to ever sue the person who injured you in exchange for compensation. After this release has been signed there is no turning back. A general release will bar you from obtaining compensation if there is other liability insurance covering the person who injured you. Unknowingly signing a general release could cost you and your family a substantial amount of money.
LIMITED LIABILITY RELEASE
A limited liability release allows people who have suffered serious injuries to settle part of the case with the at-fault party’s insurance company, as well as pursue their own uninsured motorist insurance. A limited liability release provides you and your family with a greater opportunity to obtain full compensation following an accident.
OTHER DANGERS OF SIGNING A RELEASE WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
One of the main dangers associated with releases are indemnity provisions. Indemnity provisions can prove to be dangerous for you and your family. Indemnities can be drafted too widely and needlessly expose you and your family. Having legal representation when dealing with the potential ambiguous provisions within a release can make a world of difference in the long-term outcome of your case.
A second danger when signing a release is a subrogation clause. Subrogation is defined as “[t]he principle under which an insurer that has paid a loss under an insurance policy is entitled to all the rights and remedies belonging to the insured against a third party with respect to any loss covered by the policy”. A subrogation clause could lead to the uninsured motorist insurance company to argue that the limited liability release defeats their right to sue the driver at-fault driver for subrogation.
Be very careful when considering an insurer’s proposed release. Consult with a qualified accident attorney before you sign any release. We look forward to helping you and your family.