Do Not Sign Paperwork after a Car Accident without Talking to a Lawyer

A Santa Monica car accident injury can turn your life upside down. The shock of the collision, the pain of the injuries, the inconvenience of unexpected medical treatment, and the confusion of how to handle the insurance claim - it all can feel like too much.

The stress caused by a car accident is what also causes many people to make one of the gravest mistakes - signing paperwork without first consulting an attorney.

After an accident, the at-fault party's insurance company will ask you to sign documents regarding a wide range of topics. Don't sign any of them. Let's take a closer look at what you can expect.
  • Initial offer immediately after the accident: The insurance company will probably offer you money right after the accident to pay for your emergency room bill and pain and suffering. Do not accept this offer until you know exactly how much future medical treatment you'll need, because once you sign the offer you are waiving your right to future bill payments. 
  • Medical authorization: When you sign a medical authorization, you are giving the insurance company the right to obtain your complete medical history - not just the medical records related to the accident. 
  • Affidavit: Discussing what happened before, during, and after an accident and then signing an affidavit that states the same could ruin your claim. You may forget to mention something or the information could be incorrect. After you sign your name, you cannot make changes to the document, which is why you should never sign it without first speaking with an attorney. 
  • Final settlement offer: After your medical treatment is complete, the insurance company will most likely make another settlement offer to you. Again, remember that the keyword here is "final." Once you sign, there is no going back, and you will never be able to collect for future medical problems related to the accident, no matter how serious they are. 

What the Santa Monica car accident injury lawyers at Steinberg want to stress to readers is that you are under no obligation to sign anything that the insurance company asks you to sign. Protect your legal rights by speaking with an experienced lawyer first. Better yet, order a free copy of Steinberg's book, Seven Biggest Mistakes That Can Ruin Your California Injury Case by calling 800-989-6385. Or fill out this online form to set up a complimentary case evaluation.
Peter Steinberg, Esq.
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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