Does an injured party have any recourse for damages once they sign a release?

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Does an injured party have any recourse for damages once they sign a release?

My daughter was in a car accident (12/28/10), in which she appeared not to be injured. She signed a release form for the insurance company (1/15/11) and collected $1,000 for pain and suffering. Upon returning to school and resuming her normal exercise routine, she experienced great difficulty to complete it. She ended up having to walk from the gym rather than run and because of the increased exposure, she caught the flu. She had to come home for a week. She had complaints of neck and back pain. She did not get an opportunity to cash the check. I called the insurance agent and told her that my daughter was experiencing some problems and she as much as said “Too bad.” The sweet lady that we had dealt with originally turned on us completely. She said well “You signed the release and we will only pay for the medical bills from the emergency room on (12/28/10). Does my daughter have any recourse?

Asked on January 27, 2011 under Personal Injury, Alabama

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your daughter does not have any recourse after signing the release.  By signing the release, your daughter has released the other party from liability in return for the $1000 she received.  She will not be able to file a lawsuit because of the release.  The purpose of a release is to prevent one from suing again on the same claim.  The fact that the release was signed prior to filing a lawsuit will bar a future lawsuit in this matter.

Auto accident injuries frequently appear a significant time after the accident.  If the release had not been signed, your daughter could have received additional medical treatment and when she completed her treatment and was released by the doctor, that would have been the appropriate time to pursue her personal injury claim against the other party's insurance carrier.  The claim would have included the medical bills, and medical reports which would have documented the nature and extent of the injury as a basis for compensation for pain and suffering.  In addition, any wage loss should have been included in the claim.  Compensation for the medical bills and wage loss would have been straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering would have been an amount in addition to the medical bills.  At that point, if your daughter had been dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, she could have filed a lawsuit against the other driver.

 


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