The answer is definitely no. Many people have the experience after a car accident where they get a call from the at-fault insurance company and the adjuster tells them they are going to take good care of them. Despite their friendliness on the phone, little seems to happen. But after treatment starts, all the sudden the adjuster starts talking about taking care of your medical bills and getting you some money to help you out. All you have to do is sign a paper.
It sounds like the kind gesture of a company who knows their insured was in the wrong and has put you in a tough spot. Not a final resolution of the claim. What they don’t tell you is that in exchange for this money, you will release all rights to any payment for additional medical bills, wage loss, future care, or pain and suffering dollars.
I recently had a client go through this exact same experience. For privacy purposes, we’ll call this client Jenny. Prior to becoming my client, Jenny started treatment and the insurance company told her to submit their bills as they became available, that they wanted to help her out by giving her some money up front, and they would continue to take care of everything. She thought that sounded pretty good and agreed. They sent her a document to sign and she assumed that it said what had been discussed on the phone.
As her treatment wore on, it became evident to her that the situation was more complex than she originally thought and felt she was going to need some legal help. So, she called my office. As we went about getting the case set up, the adjuster called me and informed me that Jenny had signed a settlement release for the first few weeks of treatment and a $1,000 in her pocket.
I explained that she had much more treatment that needed to be covered and that $1,000 was not going to cover the pain and suffering she had and would endure into the future as a result of their insured’s negligence. I also explained that this arrangement was not her understanding of what she had been offered. The adjuster informed me that if it wasn’t clear in the conversation, it was all put in black and white for her to read. If she didn’t agree, she should not have signed the release.
Tragically, Jenny had in fact signed a release that cut off her claim. As wrong and deceptive as it had been, she had entered into a contractual agreement with the insurance company, and it was binding.
If you get into a car accident, be aware of the following:
If you have questions about your specific claim, schedule a free consultation with us by calling 801-849-3664.