We answer two commonly asked questions.
If you’ve been in an accident, the action you need to take afterwards in terms of paperwork and insurance claims can sometimes be confusing. Below we’ve answered two basic questions we often hear from people who are recovering from an accident and are working to file an insurance claim. We hope the information is helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Burnett & Williams if you have any other questions we can assist you with.
What Should I Do if an Insurance Company Asks Me to Sign a Release?
Once you sign a release, you are settling with the insurance company and can no longer file a lawsuit for your claim. In Virginia, the property damage and personal injury cases are distinct, so signing a property damage release will not hinder your ability to later pursue a personal injury case. Many personal injury attorneys encourage their clients to handle property damage issues (such as coordination of vehicle repair, rental cars, etc.) by themselves, as it is often easier and quicker for the client to directly coordinate with the insurance company.
On the other hand, except in very rare circumstances, you should never sign a personal injury release until your injuries are fully treated. Insurance companies do not “pay as you go” – meaning that with very limited exceptions, once you sign a release and they pay you for your injury claim, your claim is permanently closed and you cannot later file a lawsuit for additional compensation, even if you end up requiring future treatment.
If you are uncertain whether or not you should sign a release, you should contact an attorney.
The Insurance Company is Asking Me to Sign Medical Authorizations — Should I Do That?
If you are planning to hire an attorney, you should not sign the medical authorizations sent to you by the insurance company. Even if you are handling the case on your own, you can send the medical records to the insurance company yourself, and you do not have to sign a medical authorization.
Once a lawyer begins working on your case, their office will be in charge of collecting all of your medical records, and will send the accident-related records to the insurance adjuster once you are finished with your treatment and the lawyer is ready to make a demand. Likewise, if you are filing a claim under your own medical expense benefits coverage (often called “Med Pay” for short), your lawyer will send your records to the Med Pay adjuster, in order to get your check for medical benefits.
In summary, if you have any questions about documents sent to you by the insurance company, you should contact an attorney. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a car accident, contact the lawyers at Burnett & Williams for a free consultation.