When an insurance provider or trucking company offers to settle your claim, one of the company's goals is to prevent or end a lawsuit. To that end, the company will usually have you sign a release or waiver of liability. This is a legal agreement that basically states you will not sue the company in the future for anything related to the case. Though you are typically required to agree to the waiver to accept the settlement offer, here are three things you need to consider before signing one.
Have You Accounted for Your Current and Future Damages?
Many times, the liable party in your case will rush to settle it as quickly as possible. This is because the company knows that the longer it takes to resolve the case, the higher the risk you'll discover new damages you'll need to be compensated for. For example, some brain or back injuries may take awhile to show up or diagnose. If the company can get you to settle before more expensive medical care is required, then they won't have to pay for it.
Therefore, it's critical that you thoroughly review the settlement offer to ensure it adequately compensates you for all of your damages--current and future. In fact, you probably shouldn't even consider settling the case until your medical treatment has been completed or all your injuries have at least been diagnosed, and a plan to treat them has been established.
An attorney can help you calculate your damages and negotiate with the liable party to ensure the settlement covers your needs.
Does Your Insurance Company Approve?
If your insurance company has any involvement in the claim, then you may need to get your provider's permission to sign the waiver first. This is because when you waive your right to sue the liable party, you may also be signing away your insurance company's right to pursue any losses it sustains handling your claim.
For example, say the trucking company's insurance policy only pays out $50,000, but you sustained $100,000 in damages. Your insurance company may step in and pay the balance of the claim depending on your policy. Your insurance provider will then try to hold to either the trucking company or its insurance company responsible for the money it paid you, but it won't be able to sue if you sign a liability waiver.
Prior to agreeing to waive liability, make sure it's okay with your insurance company or any other parties to the claim.
Can You Adhere to the Confidentiality Agreement?
In addition to the liability waiver, trucking companies found liable for your injuries will almost always want you to agree to keep the details of the case and settlement offer secret. They want to avoid any bad press or other consequences associated with the public learning about their negligence. However, non-disclosure agreements can be problematic for you and others in a couple of ways.
Outside of privileged parties such as your attorney or financial advisor, you can't tell anyone about the case. Doing so may trigger a clause in the contract that results in you being financially penalized for the breach. For instance, a man's daughter posted about his settlement on her Facebook profile, resulting in him losing the $80,000 the liable party agreed to pay him.
Secondly, keeping quiet about a company's negligence will make it hard for legislators to force the company to make needed changes. This could lead to other people being injured by the same business, including people you know.
Liability waivers are an essential part of the settlement process, but you shouldn't rush to sign one. Work with a truck accident lawyer, like those at Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC, to protect your rights and interests when confronted with a request to agree to a liability release.