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My car was totaled by a distracted driver insured by General insurance. My
husband was with me as the passenger the impact aggravated injuries he suffered
a month ago in a fall on the ice. I reported this to General, but affirmed that my
husband did not go to the emergency room, was attended by an emt on the scene,
and is self-medicating with ice packs and Advil. The claims adjuster is now saying
that before we can receive payment for car damages, we must first sign a notarized
release declaring that we will not pursue litigation for the impact injuries. Can they
legally make such a demand?
Thank you for your response,
Asked on April 22, 2017 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 3 years ago | Contributor
Anything paid by the other driver's insurer without you suing and winning, getting a court judgment in your favor requiring the other driver to pay, is voluntary on their part. Since it is voluntary, they can put any terms or conditions on it that they like, including that you release them from other claims. If you are not willing to do that, you can refuse to sign and can instead sue the at-fault driver for *all* your losses and injuries (note: you have to sue for everything resulting from the accident--e.g. personal injuries, lost wages, medical costs, and car damage--at the same time, in the same lawsuit; the "entire controversy" doctrine does not let you sue piecemeal). If you can prove in court the other driver's fault, you can get a judgment for all costs, damage and injuries you can prove. So that is your recourse: to sue, if you won't agree to their terms. Note that to sue for personal injuries, you would need medical evidence (e.g. a doctor's testimony), which can be expensive, since you'd have to pay the doctor for his/her time.
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