A car accident is a traumatic event, more so for some than others. For some people, a car accident results in permanent injuries and an inability to ever return to life as it was before the car accident. During this time when a person is so vulnerable, insurance adjusters often send people forms and pressure folks into giving recorded statements. In this article, we’re going to talk more about which documents you should be concerned about and avoid signing without speaking with an attorney.
Talk to a Lawyer Before You Sign Any Forms After Your Florida Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck accident, or any other accident in Florida, an insurance company will likely be involved. Let’s be very clear: The insurance company is not your friend. Their goal is to minimize your claim and pay you as little as possible. This is true for your insurance company, as well as for the negligent party's insurance company.
After your Florida car accident, you will likely get a call from the insurance adjuster for the at fault driver. That insurance adjuster will probably ask you to give a recorded statement or a statement in writing and may send you various documents to sign. Be very careful.
If the insurance adjuster asks for a recorded statement, the intent of the insurance company is most likely to use that statement to minimize your claim. If the insurance adjuster sends you a release to sign, that document could keep you from being able to get compensation for your injuries. Similarly, if the insurance adjuster offers you money for your injuries, it’s almost certainly going to be a lowball offer that is a tiny fraction of what you’re entitled to. Sadly, people sign these documents and settle their cases for pennies on the dollar all the time.
We recommend that you at least have a consultation with an Orlando car accident attorney before you sign any documents or settle your claim directly with the insurance company. We offer free legal consultations, and we’re happy to help you protect your rights and avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance company.
Signing a Release for Settlement
When you sign a release of claims, you’re signing away your right to seek further compensation. In other words, the release prevents you from bringing a personal injury lawsuit for the injuries you sustained as a result of your car accident. A release is final and forever. Therefore, you should take a release very seriously.
Signing a Release in Return for a Just Settlement
If you and your attorney have worked together and negotiated a reasonable settlement, you will almost certainly have to sign a release of claims in order to receive your settlement check. The insurance company would be crazy to give you money if you had the right to come back and sue them for more money in the future. Thus, in these circumstances, signing a release may be reasonable and may be required for you to resolve your case.
When the Insurance Company Pressures You into Signing a Release
Sometimes, the insurance adjuster will reach out to an injured person right after an accident and pressure that person to sign a release in return for an unreasonably low settlement. For example, the insurance company may offer $2,000 when the case is worth $40,000. Unfortunately, this tactic works, and insurance companies use this tactic to get out of claims every day for pennies on the dollar. As we mentioned before, a release is final. Therefore, you should seriously consider speaking with an attorney that understands the value of your car accident case before you sign a release in return for a settlement.
Should I Sign a Property Damage Release Form?
Just as with a release of claims for your injuries, a property damage release form is a release of claims regarding your car, its contents, or any other property that was damaged in your car accident. Again, a release is final. Therefore, you should speak with an attorney before you sign a property damage release form.
Medical Records Release Forms
Insurance companies will often ask people to sign a medical records release form after an Orlando, Florida car accident. This medical release gives the insurance company the right to request all your medical records. Technically, the insurance company could request medical records that are completely unrelated to your accident. Thus, the insurance company may gain access to medical records that you would rather be kept private.
Should I Sign a Medical Release for the Insurance Adjuster?
If you speak with an attorney before signing the medical release for the insurance company, your attorney may have a better option for you. Namely, the attorney could request your medical records. Then, your attorney could go through your medical records and determine which records are relevant to the case and should be turned over to the insurance adjuster or opposing counsel. That way, the defense does not get access to your medical records that are unrelated to accident.
Many cases are settled prior to filing a lawsuit. If your case resolves before a lawsuit is filed, then you may be able to keep the insurance company from going through all your medical records. However, once a lawsuit is filed, the defense and the insurance company may be able to go through your medical records as part of the discovery process.
Should I Sign a Medicare Reporting Form?
The insurance adjuster may ask you to sign a Medicare reporting form. Although this document is less likely to cause you problems if you sign it than if you signed a release, we would still recommend you speak to an attorney before you sign anything. That way, you know exactly what you’re signing, and you know your rights are protected. Now, let’s talk a little more about these Medicare reporting forms.
Under some circumstances, Medicare has a right to be repaid for any conditional payments made. In this context, a conditional payment is a payment that Medicare makes for treatment or services that some other person or entity may be responsible for. The payment Medicare made is “conditional” because it must be repaid when the case resolves through settlement or verdict, or otherwise when a payment is made.
For example, Medicare may make a conditional payment for services after you were injured by a careless driver. In this circumstance, the at fault driver is liable for your injuries, not Medicare. Thus, Medicare would have made a payment that it was not responsible for, and it would have a right of reimbursement.
Application for No Fault Benefits
In Florida, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection or PIP. To get your PIP benefits, you may be asked to sign an application for no fault benefits. Sometimes, this document will be titled, APPPLICATION FOR FLORIDA “NO FAULT” BENEFITS. This document will ask you for a lot of information, which may include the following:
- Your contact information,
- Information regarding your vehicle,
- Where you sought medical treatment because of your car accident,
- You employer’s information,
- Your earnings or wages, and
- A description of your injuries.
Any time you talk about your car accident or your injuries, or whenever you put anything in writing, you are creating evidence that the insurance company could use against you. Therefore, you should consider speaking with an Orlando car accident attorney before you sign an application for no fault benefits.
Contact Us for a FREE Legal Consultation with An Orlando Car Accident Attorney at Our Firm
We are happy to give you a free consultation and talk to you about your Orlando car accident. At our firm, lawyers do consultations, not intake people or customer service representatives. All you have to do is call us at (321) 352-7588 and schedule your free consultation, or you can contact us at our website.
A car accident can flip your life upside down. It’s a traumatic experience. When you hire our firm, you will have a direct line of communication to your attorney. When you need us, we’re here for you.