Insurance companies cannot be trusted--especially in the way they treat car accident victims. I have noticed that insurance companies are becoming more and more aggressive about approaching victims of car accidents and offering them a small amount of money in exchange for releasing their liability claim. Unfortunately, many of those injured in car accidents are taking the bait and signing the release in exchange for the money. In my opinion, the main reason that this happens is that car crash victims are quite often suffering from financial hardship because they are unable to work and have lost wages because of their injuries from the crash. Therefore, when offered a couple of thousand dollars immediatley in exchange for a release it is hard to say no--they need to put food on the table for their family. The insurance companies send out highly trained adjusters with a checkbook to meet in person with accident victims and urge them to settle on the cheap. These insurance adjusters are trained to be nice, compassionate, and to essentially trick the car crash victim into thinking they are on their side (which is never true). Here is what Maryland victims of car crashes need to know about signing a release:
1. Don't sign a release without at least talking to an attorney. If you have an injury that may be permanent, then a release should not be signed until you know the full extent of your injuries and the cost of the future care.
2. Generally speaking, if you sign a release, you are giving up all of your rights to make a claim for further damages from the accident. The fact that you felt pressured to sign the release is not going to help get it voided.
3. If an insurance company tells you that you do not need a lawyer, then you need a lawyer.
4. In Maryland, there is a new law that essentially makes it so that if a release is signed within 30 days of an accident, it is voidable for 60 days so long as certain conditions are met such as returning the money and providing the insurance company with written notice.