Don’t sign unless you have a lawyer look at it first.
Most of the time when people sign something that an insurance adjuster gives them, they have no idea what it is or what it does. And most people can’t really know until a lawyer reads it first.
In Ohio, there is no law requiring insurance companies to use the same language on every release.
So you need to have a lawyer look at it to make sure you’re not hurting yourself. There is no other answer I could give.
And I don’t know a lawyer who will charge you for doing this. I won’t.
What do they want you to sign?
It might be a release of your property damage claim – a promise not to sue the other driver or his insurance company for the damage to your car. Some companies don’t ask you to sign these any more – they just write the checks to the auto body shop and the car rental franchise.
But what if your body shop finds additional damage after you sign the release? Then you are at the mercy of the insurance company if you want to get that additional damage fixed.
And what if the paper has a personal injury release on it as well as the property damage release? You wouldn’t be able to recover any money on your personal injury claim.
To their credit, I haven’t seen any insurance companies combining both releases in a single document for almost 30 years, but it has happened.
Or the insurance company might want you to sign an authorization permitting the insurance company to see all of your medical records – and maybe even giving them permission to pay your doctor to talk to them.
Realistically, an insurance company can’t pay you for your personal injury claim without knowing a lot about your medical history – both before and after the accident. But there might be some things that don’t have anything to do with your lawsuit that you don’t want them to see; and you and your lawyer should be the first ones to see your records.
Reviewing the records before giving them to the insurance company can give you and your lawyer the opportunity to make the best first impression. This is crucial.
If your lawyer gets the records and gives them to the insurance company, they can’t accuse you of hiding what’s in them. But if the adjuster gets them first, he “discovered” anything that hurts you – and in negotiations, he won’t let go of that fact.
And – big news – doctors, like anyone else, make mistakes. They get names wrong and histories wrong. If you look at them before the insurance company does, your lawyer can go back to the doctor and ask him about things that just don’t make sense.
Or the insurance company might want you to sign a release of your personal injury claim. If you do this, you are signing a contract stating that you will never sue the other driver, or his insurance company, for the injuries caused by the driver.
If you sign a personal injury release, you will never receive any more money from the insurance company. Wouldn’t you like to know what your case is worth before you do that?
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. People call me all the time and ask if they can sign a paper from the insurance company. I tell them to see lawyer first. If you have a personal injury case in Cincinnati, Ohio or if you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.