What happens when you settle your car crash case? Quite a bit more than most people think.

This is the first in a series of blogs on what happens when you settle your Maryland car or truck accident case.

One of the milestones in any auto or truck accident case is the settlement. Perhaps, it is more than a milestone as it is the ultimate goal in such case. But what does settlement mean and how is it accomplished?

Generally, car and truck crash victims are represented by attorneys in their cases and may be aware of the back and forth between the insurance company and their chosen lawyer. They might hear what their lawyer initially sought for settlement and what was offered by the insurance company. But what does settlement mean beyond an agreement to end an injury claim in return for money?

Settlement means that once you sign the release and receive your share of the settlement proceeds, your case is over FOREVER. A frequent question we receive at Clark and Steinhorn, LLC is along the lines of "what if we need future medical treatment, can we go back for more?" The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT!

 The language of the release one typically signs at settlement incudes language  such as "hereby release, acquit, and forever discharge", meaning no more claims ever against that party. There is always a good deal more said in a release about many other issues you would never think of in a million years. For example, releases make reference to liens, assignments of benefits and subrogation interests.

What the heck are these latter things? Why are they in the release and how do they benefit you? The answer is that they don't benefit you but serve as a protection for the settling insurer. Liens, assignments of benefits and subrogation interests concern potential claims by doctors, health insurers and others that derive from the automobile accident victim's case.

As an example, Blue Cross may pay your medical expenses in a truck crash case but they may be entitled to be paid back out of your settlement.  This comes about by virtue of language in your health insurance policy and is both a lien and a subrogation interest. In a similar vein, an assignment of benefits may well be a document one signs in order to get medical treatment, that entitles the doctor to be paid out of any settlement or verdict.

The bottom line, when you sign a release you aren't merely closing your pesronal injury claim permanently in return for money, you also are assuming some legal obligations that your attorney needs to make sure you understand.

Tomorrow we examine the typical settlement release and its effect on you and others.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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