Confusing Language in Property Damage Release Claim

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:57 am   Post subject: Confusing Language in Property Damage Release Claim  

Hi,



I was stopped at a red light when a truck rear-ended me. Third party insurance sent me a "RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS" to sign in order for them to pay for the damage to my car. Some of the language in the release confuses me. Specifically:



"IT IS UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED that the payment of said amount by the said Payer(s) is not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of said Payer(s), but that said payment is in compromise and settlement of my (our) claim which is not admitted but is denied and disputed by said Payer(s); that his release is being given by me (us) voluntarily and not based on any representations or statements of any kind made by the Payer(s) or his, or her, or their representative, as to the merits, legal liability, or value of my (our) claim or any other matter relating thereto."



Fault was clearly the other driver's-- here it seems they are saying they deny it? As I am still awaiting closure on the personal injury part of the accident claim, would signing this release give them reason to deny payment for my chiropractor bills?



Also:



"IT IS FURTHER UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED, that this release is intended to cover all actions, causes of action, claims and demands for, upon, or by reason of any damages, loss or injury, known or unknown, which may be traced either directly or indirectly to the aforesaid action, as now appearing or may appear by any time in the future, no matter how remotely they may be related to the aforesaid accident. And this Release is executed with the full knowledge and understanding on my or our part that there may be more serious consequences, damages or injuries or separate or distinct consequences, damages or injuries as a result of the accident aforementioned, which are not now known, and that more serious and permanent injuries or separate and distinct injuries, even to the extent of death, may result from the injuries sustained in the accident aforementioned."



Third party adjuster has assured me this settlement ONLY pertains to the property damage portion of my claim. Why are they mentioning "injury" and "death" in this paragraph?



Just trying to be an informed consumer. Am I too concerned here?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:19 pm   Post subject:   

It's important to be concerned and informed before signing anything. A release of all claims is written to include many actions, even if those actions do not pertain to your particular situation. I am assuming that when you say you are waiting for "closure", you are still recieving treatment. If so, no settlement will be offered until a doctor releases you from treatment. The adjuster is correct that the release is only for the property damage based on an appraisal/estimate of the vehicle's damage. Also assuming your vehicle is not a total loss, the settlement is usually "open ended" until further inspection that may discover additional damage related to the loss. Meaning the settlement is based on a estimate cost and not a final bill.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:16 am   Post subject:   

Thank you Trench. Yes, I am still receiving treatment, but hopefully nearing the finish line. This was a separate claim, supposed to be only for the auto damage itself, but the terminology confused me into thinking it would also affect the personal injury claim.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:38 pm   Post subject:   

BTW, the OP is me, I created the new topic as "guest" but had to register to continue posting...



Just ran the release past my attorney; he stated the wording was completely unsatisfactory because it would have given away any rights to my pers. injury claim. Glad I didn't sign it as suggested by the adjuster, who repeatedly stated it applied to the prop. damage claim only: (example) "As previously advised, this settlement ONLY pertains to the property damage portion of your claim."

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:54 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
he stated the wording was completely unsatisfactory




Shocking. A lawyer said that?



Quote:
because it would have given away any rights to my pers




Did he tell you that? You're just going to have to sign another one when you are released from medical treatment and you reach a settlement offer. Since you have already informed the insurer and the adjuster of the BI claim, they will be expecting to recieve the medical bills. You can't begin settle on your medical until you are released from treatment. In all accidents involving injuries that I have handled, there always in most cases where the carrier accepts liab, two realeases.



Quote:
this settlement ONLY pertains to the property damage portion of your claim."




Of course, that was only for what has been determined in your loss.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:58 pm   Post subject:   

Unless you are willing to wait until your medical treatment and bills have been submitted, then get your car repaired or reiumbursed, I guess you can wait to sign a release of all claims. That would be a first for me, in claims of that nature.





Update: Unless, the carrier has a "property damage" only release and the adjuster wants you to sign the incorrect form. However, [b]some[b] carriers only have a standard release of all claims that covers property and medical combined. I can understand where you and your attorney have concern, but what has he demanded from the adjuster regarding the release itself?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:40 pm   Post subject:   

This language is under the unfair claims practices act in Missouri, I'd bet it would be similar to most states. They can't force you into signing a release but that doesn't stop many companies from extending the settlement offer under their terms.



Quote:
(6) No insurer shall issue any draft in partial

settlement of a claim under a specific coverage,

when endorsement of the draft would

totally release the insurer or its insured from

liability.




If I had my own collision coverage, I'd be settling with my own company that has a legal contractual obligation to pay my losses under the terms and conditions of my policy and let them subrogate everything but those losses in which they are not obligated, such as loss of value or loss of use. There is no third party bad faith laws in most states, but there is first party. Laughing


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:27 pm   Post subject:   

Ah for the good old days, when the backs of all the claims drafts said, "endorsement of this draft constitues a release of all claims" Wink I'm kidding of course...



ALL releases have wording that says (in effect) "we aren't admitting to ANYTHING-NO WRONG DOERS HERE!"...that's standard..



In over 20 years in this biz..I've probably required a property damage release from maybe ten vehicle owners...every one of them a GIANT pain in my rear end...err-go the release. It's highly unusual, (in my area anyway)..



PD and BI claims are separate, and can NEVER be combined in any state...



Has your vehicle been repaired? Are they holding the draft for the repair(s) until you sign this? I'd personally tell them I'm not signing this release...as Trench said, have them come up with a PD release...or better yet forget the PD release all together...They are responsible for all damages caused by their insured...What if something pops up in a month? If you've signed a PD release...you're done.



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:56 am   Post subject:   

I don't mind signing a limited PD release; I have done extensive inspection and am confident there is no additional damage beyond what we already know (rear bumper, taillight, upper valance, dent on upper corner above taillight, paint) which was all included in their appraiser's inspection. No other problems. Just that the PD release included overly broad wording that also referred to sustained injuries which (according to my atty.) would have released any bodily injury claims.



Car has been partially repaired, all that remains is the dent and repaint. I expect to happily drive it many more miles.



I also realize the PD claim can be settled before (or at least separately from) the personal injury claim (which I expect to settle shortly).



The whole issue of the PD release came up because they (via CCC) originally low-balled the ACV and wanted to total the car. After struggling to get them to consider the correct ACV (I obtained the CCC report, contacted the sources it listed, who immediately stated the ACV it listed was a typo, $1000 too low) they agreed to pay for repair vs. total and sent me the PD release to sign. Again, I will gladly sign a PD release, but not when it includes language that releases them from injury claims when the injury claim has not been settled yet.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:50 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
I have done extensive inspection and am confident there is no additional damage beyond what we already know (rear bumper, taillight, upper valance, dent on upper corner above taillight, paint) which was all included in their appraiser's inspection.
wait a second...if your vehicle has not been repaired or minimally torn down, from your damage discription...(depending on the vehicle of course)...you could have absorber, rebar, rear body and floor damage...just be sure...if you have a urethan cover, (especially) I've seen these puppys pop back out and look minor...pull the cover and the rear body panel and rebar are caved...just a suggestion..be SURE..



So they have or they have not issued PD payment to you and/or your shop of choice?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:00 am   Post subject:   

So what has your attorney done?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:16 am   Post subject:   

The PD release I used to use had all the wording you stated, but at the top in larger bold print it stated RELEASE OF PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM ONLY. Even then I had to explain every time that it did not affect their injury claim.



Quote:
ALL releases have wording that says (in effect) "we aren't admitting to ANYTHING-NO WRONG DOERS HERE!"...that's standard..





This also was always a big pain in the but to explain to the claimant.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:53 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
I have done extensive inspection and am confident there is no additional damage beyond what we already know (rear bumper, taillight, upper valance, dent on upper corner above taillight, paint) which was all included in their appraiser's inspection. No other problems.




Maybe, but until a repair professional looks at it, that could be a completely different story. Remember the appraiser, wrote an estimate. An educated guess, which will in most cases will not reflect the true cost of the repair, until your vehicle is finished.



I am still interested what you and your attorney are discussing about moving your claim forward.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:45 pm   Post subject:   

They have not yet made any payment to me or body shop.



Atty. has sent back to the adjuster an amended release last Friday, replacing the injury language w/ property damage language, and also attempted to contact the adjuster by phone.



I did request the adjuster explain the wording in the PD claim, after a week of no response, that's when I forwarded it to my atty to have him look at it.



I must be one of those pains to the adjuster.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:27 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
I must be one of those pains to the adjuster.




Not really. He probably did what I would have done and that is reject it and tell the carrier to resubmit the proper paperwork.
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