Is a notation on an injury settlement check binding?

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Is a notation on an injury settlement check binding?

I was involved in an auto accident where I was driving company and was struck from behind by another vehicle. There was no apparent injury to myself but I still went to my chiropractor to get checked out and help with a little soreness and stiffness. My chiropractor did not see any noticeable issues. I just recently received a check from the insurance company of the person who struck me from behind. The person called me to let me know I would be receiving this check; it is for $2000. I have not deposited or cashed check at this point. The check has a statement on it; “Payment for full settlement of injury claim” What should I do?

Asked on March 5, 2014 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legally binding. One party may not unilaterally change the amount owed or terms of payment by doing this. There is a common myth that the memo line on a check has legal force - it doesn't. It's just for informational purposes. While it helps to identify the purpose of a check, it does not bind the recipient. Think about it, if it was that easy to alter the terms of a payment, everyone would do it. For example, a person could write "payment in full" for a bill and be done with it. Additionally, the fact is that not every check can be that closely monitored for such notations; it would tie up commerce. 

Bottom line, a recipient of a check without being bound by whatever may have been written in on the memo line.

Answer: The notation in the "memo" line is not legally binding. You can negoatiate the check without any negative recourse.


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