Release & Settlement Agreements in Personal Injury Cases Explained

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Most personal injury claims end in a settlement in which you receive an agreed-upon amount of money for your injuries. However, the settlement of a personal injury claim involves more than just the exchange of money. Once you are able to settle your personal injury claim, you will need to review and sign a release to receive the settlement funds. It is important to understand how a settlement release works and what rights you are giving up in exchange for settlement of your personal injury claim. Before you sign a liability, release and agree to the terms of an insurance settlement, it is important you understand the true extent of your injuries and the consequences of signing a release. This blog post will discuss settlement and release agreements in personal injury cases. Specifically, this post will discuss the general rules, provisions, and requirements of personal injury settlements and releases.

What is a Settlement Agreement?

A settlement agreement is an agreement to terminate, by means of mutual concessions, a claim that is disputed in good faith or unliquidated. A settlement agreement between parties to litigation is in fact a contract and is governed by the laws of contracts. If an insurer provides a settlement agreement document for execution, you should carefully review each of the terms to ensure that it accurately reflects the agreement reached in your case. Although often referred to generically as a “release,” the document will sometimes include terms that accomplish more than simply releasing one party from liability to the other. Other terms frequently included in a release document, which may or may not be needed or suitable depending on the facts of your specific case may include clauses that preserve your ability to bring additional claims for first-party medical benefits or uninsured motorist coverages, or clauses that identify any claims that are not being released, such as a separate products liability action; a hold harmless clause, in which the releasor promises to hold harmless the releasee from any claims asserted against the releasee arising out of the claim that is the subject of the release; an indemnity clause, with or without provisions for defense, which may require the releasor to pay for and provide a defense to the releasee if any later claims are brought against the releasee.

What is a Release?

If an insurer provides a release document for execution, you should carefully review each of the terms to ensure that it accurately reflects the agreement reached in your case. Although often referred to generically as a “release,” the document will sometimes include terms that accomplish more than simply releasing one party from liability to the other.

Other terms frequently included in a release document, which may or may not be needed or suitable depending on the facts of your specific case may include clauses that preserve your ability to bring additional claims for first-party medical benefits or uninsured motorist coverages, or clauses that identify any claims that are not being released, such as a separate products liability action; a hold harmless clause, in which the releasor promises to hold harmless the releasee from any claims asserted against the releasee arising out of the claim that is the subject of the release; an indemnity clause, with or without provisions for defense, which may require the releasor to pay for and provide a defense to the releasee if any later claims are brought against the releasee. A release document usually will identify the amount of the settlement, all parties who are being released, and the claim or claims that are being released (for example, bodily injury or property damage claims).

The Release is a document prepared by the defense attorney and setting forth the settlement terms. Once the defense attorney prepares the Release, it will be sent to your lawyer for approval. Depending on what is in the document, the Release can be very straightforward, but certain language can be objectionable. Your lawyer will read carefully to determine whether all terms are acceptable. Sometimes, the lawyers will argue for days over the terms of the Release. They generally reach an agreement, but if they don’t, they will request that the judge step in. This can slow things down considerably. Once the Release is acceptable, your lawyer will send it to you to sign. You will usually have to sign it in front of a notary public, sometimes in triplicate.

Before signing it, you will want to read it carefully and discuss it fully with your lawyer, making sure that all your questions are answered. Once the document has been signed and returned to the defense attorney, the terms and the language are final.

After Settling Your Personal Injury Claim

If you’re able to settle your personal injury case before your case moves to the trial phase, the attorneys will notify the court that the case was settled by filing a notice of settlement. The court will then issue an order of settlement, which will require the parties to file a copy of the settlement agreement within 30 days.

Loss of enjoyment is even vaguer than pain and suffering. Hiring a law firm such as Gary Phillips Accident Law, Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney helps calculate difficult to measure settlement amounts and the variety of other factors that have to be taken into account.

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