Even when they are just fender benders, car accidents are stressful. The first thing you always want to know is if everyone is okay.

It’s understandable if you are not thinking as clearly as you should about your legal rights in the stress of the moment. However, if the other party caused the accident, it’s a good idea to be cautious when it comes to car settlement agreements.

What Is A Car Accident Settlement Agreement?

A car accident settlement agreement – sometimes called a “release” or a “waiver” – is a document designed to resolve the accident parties’ potential claims against each other.

A car accident settlement agreement typically contains the following information:

  • Details of the accident, including the date and location.
  • Claims, including bodily injury, property damages, and other non-economic damages. (In some cases, insurance companies will create separate car accident agreement forms for bodily injury and property damages.)
  • Parties, including names and contact information
  • Payment, including how much money the insurance company is paying in exchange for the release of claims.

A typical settlement agreement involves an insurance company compensating the driver injured by their insured. In exchange, the injury victim releases the insurance company and the at-fault driver from all liabilities arising from the car accident. In order to receive the compensation, the driver who did not cause the accident must sign a document prepared by the at-fault driver’s insurer. ‘

It can be tempting to accept such an agreement. You might think that by signing the form, you’ll save the time and expense of filing a lawsuit and hiring a lawyer. However, when you sign this agreement, you create a binding legal document. Unfortunately, this document may be more beneficial to the insurance company than to you, the injured party.

Before you sign on the dotted line, here are five things you need to know about car accident settlement agreements.

1. Car Accident Settlement Agreements Cover All Claims

After a car accident, adrenalin takes over, and you may not realize you are seriously hurt. If you sign a car accident agreement before you realize you have sustained a back or neck injury, for example, you release your right to pursue that claim.

Wait until a doctor has evaluated you before signing any settlement agreement. Until then, you may not know the extent of your injuries.

2. Car Accident Settlement Agreements Are Final

You cannot undo or take back a signature on a settlement agreement. Once both parties sign an agreement with an insurance company, it is a binding legal contract that is enforceable in court.

For example, if you realize after you sign an agreement that you could have sued the at-fault driver for both strict liability and negligence, but you only sued for negligence, you cannot take further legal action. If you find out that one of your injuries is much worse than you thought when you signed the agreement, you would not be entitled to any further compensation.

New York has a statute of limitations for filing a legal case. You only have three years from the accident date to file your personal injury case. Although we recommend that you don’t delay filing a claim, do not let the other insurance company pressure you into signing an agreement.

3. Car Accident Settlement Agreements Cover All Parties

Some car crashes involve multiple vehicles and multiple drivers. As a result, more than one driver could share liability for the accident, or a defective airbag could have caused injuries.

A car accident settlement agreement releases all other parties – both known and unknown — from liability for your car accident claim. When you accept a settlement, you sign a “release” form that waives your right to any further claim regarding the accident — from the at-fault driver and everyone else.

4. You Can Negotiate Your Settlement

Insurance companies typically offer a low initial settlement amount. If the company is able to get a signed agreement for that “low ball” amount before the signer realizes the actual value of their claim, the insurer can save a great deal of money.

The first settlement offer from the insurance company is not a final offer. In many cases, a counter-offer can result in a higher settlement.

5. You Need to Know the Value of Your Claim

One can agree to things during a time of stress without giving them the careful thought they deserve. The at-fault driver’s insurance company counts on this impulse.

Here’s what the other insurance company won’t tell you. 

Accident victims are entitled to receive compensation for the following:

  • medical bills (now and in the future)
  • lost wages from missed work
  • pain and suffering and other damages.
  • car repairs

It can be challenging to calculate the value of your accident claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help.

Our team at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, PC, can calculate the maximum compensation for your claim to determine if the insurance company is offering you a fair settlement amount.

After examining the details of your accident and carefully reviewing the settlement agreement, we will advise you on whether you should accept it or seek damages through a lawsuit. If you do decide to file a claim, we will assist you in collecting information from any other drivers, passengers, and witnesses.

Speak with A Car Accident Lawyer Before You Sign a Settlement Agreement

Remember that when you sign a “release” form, it “releases” the responsible party — the at-fault driver and the at-fault driver’s insurance company — from any liability associated with your accident.

At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, we have the knowledge and experience to guide you in getting the compensation you deserve after a car accident. We know all about car settlement agreements and what some insurance companies try to pull.

We offer a free no-obligation consultation for you to learn more about us and for us to learn more about how we can help you.

Don’t put your legal rights and possibly your financial future at risk by signing a car accident settlement agreement before speaking with an attorney. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.