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Author Topic: A little legal advice if you please  (Read 1784 times)
jonzr
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« on: May 01, 2010 at 17:24 »

A brief summary:  my wife's vehicle was t-boned by another driver.  After some time their ins co decided to total the vehicle.  Surprisingly, we agreed up a fair price.  Now, prior to giving us the check they want us to sign and return the following document.  Note:  the other people and their ins co are in IL, we're in TX.

The document:
Quote
RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE ONLY

Claim Number: xxxxxxxxxxxx

For the SOLE CONSIDERATION OF $xxxxxxxxx the receipt and sufficiency of which is acknowledged, the undersigned releases and forever discharges Mr. Driver-of-Car, Mrs. Driver-of-Car, their heirs, executors, administrators, agents and assigns, BIG EVIL Insurance Company, all other persons, firms or corporations liable, or who may be claimed to be liable, none of whom admit liability to the undersigned, but all expressly deny any liability, from any and all claims, demands or suits of any kind on account of and resulting from damage to property caused by an accident which occurred on or about the <date-they-hit-my-wife> at or near <Some-address-where-they-hit-my-wife>.

This release expressly reserves all rights of the parties released to pursue their legal remedies if any against the undersigned, their heirs executors, agents and assigns.

It is further understood and agreed that this release and payment is not to be construed as a waiver or estoppel of any party released to prosecute a claim or action for any damages sustained.

Undersigned declares that the terms of this settlement have been completely read and are fully understood and voluntarily accepted for the purpose of making a full and final compromise, adjustment and settlement of any and all claims, disputed or otherwise, on account of the damages above mentioned, and for the express purpose of precluding forever any further or additional claims relating to property damage arising out of the aforesaid accident.

Ok, first of all, they haven't sent us a check yet.  They want this signed and returned before they cut a check.  Plus, there's another document with title transfer, etc. and an arrangement for the ins co to pay Nissan (who financed the car) the remaining balance and then the remaining to us.  So that's my first problem, this document makes it sound like we've already received the money.

Now, I don't mind signing something that says we consider the matter settled if they pay us and that we won't sue them.  But all that legal mumbo jumbo sounds like quite a bit more than that.  It sounds like we give away all legal rights to do pretty much anything but expressly grant the other party rights to sue us!?  WTF?  Why would that even be included at all?  THEY HIT MY WIFE!  SHE'S THE VICTIM HERE.

Anyway, if there are any ins industry folks or legal types who wouldn't mind commenting, please do so.  There's no way we're signing that thing.
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aj_law
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2010 at 19:47 »

Don't have time to review in detail at the moment, but I wouldn't sing jack that gives up any of your rights.  And, I'd sue.
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2010 at 09:35 »

Well, just got off the phone with the arsehole claims adjuster (redundant, I know) and he flatly refuses to change the wording. 

So, what type of lawyer should I seek to employ?  Personal injury?  Is it likely that they could recover extra money to cover their fees and court costs?
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2010 at 09:55 »

If your stupid wife hadn't flung her car sideways into this poor innocent driver's vehicle, none of this shit would have happened.

Damn you, jonzr!
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jonzr
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2010 at 10:04 »

Right?  I mean, what was she thinking, the conniving woman!
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kluisi61
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2010 at 10:12 »

Hire AJ.
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aj_law
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2010 at 10:43 »

Yeah, find a personal injury guy/gal, preferrably one that specializes in injuries from vehicular accidents.  You can probably get one to take the case on a contingency basis and the initial consult should be free.  Bring the release form and any other documentation you've received with you for him/her to review.  They should be able to give you an idea of how standard those things are in these types of cases. 

I'm guessin' a lot of people just sign that release and don't even think twice.  Generally, people take the money and run.  It's probably one of the reasons why they're so willing to settle on such a "fair" price for your vehicle.  "Here you go Mr. Bonzr, the book value on your vehicle was $13,500, but it was in very good shape and had low miles on it so we're giving you $14,500.  All you need to do is sign this little thingy here...it's just a formality...and we can cut the check today."

BTW, was there an accident report?  I assume the other driver was at fault?  Any chance they were inebriated?

Most importantly, how is your wife?  Any lingering injuries?  That's really what they're afraid of; an injury that's simmering beneath the surface now and pops up in a month or two causing thousands of dollars in medical costs and/or permanent damage.

Good luck, sir.  Hope everything works out.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask either here, via e-mail or PM.  I'm far from a tort expert, but I'll do whatever I can to help.
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2010 at 11:04 »

Thanks aj.  Yeah, the wife is fine.  I'm now making my last attempt to get this done w/out hiring an attorney - spoke with people at my ins co and they said to fax the docs to them, they'll look at 'em and see if there's anything out of the ordinary or if it's just typical boiler plate stuff that shouldn't concern me.

So, I'll let y'all know how that goes.  My boss just dropped by and his opinion is that it's just legal jargon saying my wife's neck won't start hurting in two months.  He believes that first sentence says that we only agree once we've received (and deposited) the check and that the rest of the document is worthless until that happens.  If that's the case I'm more inclined to just get this mess done.  But I'll wait and see what my ins co says.
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aj_law
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2010 at 13:02 »

RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE ONLY

Claim Number: xxxxxxxxxxxx

For the SOLE CONSIDERATION OF $xxxxxxxxx the receipt and sufficiency of which is acknowledged, the undersigned releases and forever discharges Mr. Driver-of-Car, Mrs. Driver-of-Car, their heirs, executors, administrators, agents and assigns, BIG EVIL Insurance Company, all other persons, firms or corporations liable, or who may be claimed to be liable, none of whom admit liability to the undersigned, but all expressly deny any liability, from any and all claims, demands or suits of any kind on account of and resulting from damage to property caused by an accident which occurred on or about the <date-they-hit-my-wife> at or near <Some-address-where-they-hit-my-wife>.

This release expressly reserves all rights of the parties released to pursue their legal remedies if any against the undersigned, their heirs executors, agents and assigns.

It is further understood and agreed that this release and payment is not to be construed as a waiver or estoppel of any party released to prosecute a claim or action for any damages sustained.

Undersigned declares that the terms of this settlement have been completely read and are fully understood and voluntarily accepted for the purpose of making a full and final compromise, adjustment and settlement of any and all claims, disputed or otherwise, on account of the damages above mentioned, and for the express purpose of precluding forever any further or additional claims relating to property damage arising out of the aforesaid accident.

...

Undersigned declares that the terms of this settlement have been completely read and are fully understood and voluntarily accepted for the purpose of making a full and final compromise, adjustment and settlement of any and all claims, disputed or otherwise, on account of the damages above mentioned...

I don't like those bolded parts.

The title of the form states release from property damage, but when you read on, you're essentially releasing them from all liability (underlined part -- from any and all claims, demands or suits of any kind) arising out of the accident.

So, in two months, when your wife suddenly starts complaining of lower back and/or neck pain and you come to find out that there's a fracture in her 8th and 9th vertebraes (God forbid, etc., etc), what happens if she can't work; ability to work is limited; and/or she has nagging injuries that stay with her for the rest of her life causing her unreasonable pain and suffering?  You now have zero recourse.

Maybe I'm reading that wrong; maybe it's the way it's written; or maybe it's a combination of the two, but I'd take it to a PI attorney and have him review it.  You should be able to get a free consult somewhere.  Don't take your insurance company's word as gospel either.

It's one thing to release them from additional personal property damage claims, it's quite another to absolve them of any liability from any and all claims.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2010 at 13:05 by aj_law » Logged

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jonzr
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2010 at 13:18 »

Ah, point taken.  Maybe she should go in for an exam, one of our friends down the street is a chiropractor.
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