Should I Sign a Release of Liability After a Car Accident?


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After a car accident, you need to be very careful about what you do in order to protect your legal rights. While the laws differ in different states, in many cases you are able to obtain at least some recovery for your injuries. In tort or liability states, you need to be especially cognizant of your actions after a car accident, because in those states, the person who is responsible for the accident is also responsible for paying the bills from that accident. If you were in an accident caused by someone else and you are hurt, you can even sue the person for damages relating to the car accident, including pain and suffering and payment for the work you missed. While the law protects you, you can give up those important protections by signing a release of liability. Before you give up those legal rights, you need to think carefully about whether signing such a release is in your best interests.

Signing a Car Accident Release of Liability

A release of liability is a formally binding legal document in which you agree not to hold an individual or entity (such as an insurance company) liable for any damages resulting from a given situation. In other words, if you sign a release of liability, you are saying that this individual is no longer responsible and you can no longer sue the person based on the incident.

Before you sign a release of liability:

  • Make sure you understand the nature of your injuries: If it is only a day or two after the accident and you haven't been thoroughly examined by a doctor, don't just assume you are fine and sign a release of liability. The true nature and extent of the injuries you suffered may not have even become apparent yet. If it later turns out you have internal bleeding or swelling of the brain that wasn't immediately obvious, you can't sue if you signed a release of liability.
  • Ensure you are fairly compensated for signing a release of liability: Most often, these documents are signed as part of a settlement. This means you get a lump sum of money in exchange for giving up your right to sue. The money offered should be enough to reasonably cover all your damages.
  • Get the help of a lawyer: You need to have a lawyer look over the liability release before you sign it, every time. Otherwise, you ma be giving up rights you are entitled to under the law.

Getting Help

An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your case, and help you to determine- in light of the facts surrounding the car accident and the nature of your injuries- whether or not signing the release of liability is advisable. He can also look over the release to ensure that it is fair and doesn't trample on your rights.

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