- Medical Bills: Once you settle your personal injury case with the other side your case will be closed. Regardless of what you might think or believe or what the other side might have “implied”, once your case is settled you will NOT receive any additional funds for past or future medical bills.
Therefore, it is critical that your settlement covers all of your past, present and future medical bills. This also includes any liens by your car insurance (PIP), health insurance, Medicare, or any other entity that paid any medical bills related to your car accident or personal injury claim. It is an unwelcomed surprise (to put it mildly) to discover that you owe your health insurance thousands of dollars after you have already settled your case.
- Income/Wage Loss: If you lost any wages or income due to an accident related disability, you must recover it at the same time you settle your claim. This is especially important if the accident rendered you permanently disabled and will cause you to incur future wage or income loss. As indicated above, once you settle your claim it is forever closed. You will not be able to ask the insurance company for more compensation three years down the road because you still cannot return to work. This issue must be reviewed with your medical provider and included in your personal injury settlement consideration. It is your responsibility to contemplate your future loss and bring it up before settlement. The insurance company will NOT remind you of that.
- Read & Understand the Release Agreement: Once you reach an agreement with the insurance company to settle your car accident or personal injury claim they will send you a release agreement form to sign. Sometimes the release agreement will be sent with your settlement check, other times they will send the release agreement first and the settlement check only after they receive the signed release back from you. The release agreement represents and formalizes the terms of the settlement. Make sure you review the agreement before you sign it and return it to the insurance company. If any of the terms of the agreement do not accurately represent your understanding of the settlement STOP. Contact the insurance adjuster and request that corrections be made to the release agreement. If you are unsure, contact an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys will be happy to explain the terms of the settlement agreement to you.