16 May 2015

Release Agreements: Do I sign it? Do I need an attorney?

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By Daniel F. Dickenson, Esq.

At some point in our lives, just about every person gets involved in a legal dispute or makes an insurance claim. Part of making, negotiating and settling a legal dispute or insurance claim is entering into a release agreement. Release agreements can contain a very broad variety of terms and conditions which limit your rights once you settle.

It is important to first understand that a release agreement is a contract. The formation of a contract requires an offer, an acceptance of that offer and consideration. Consideration means something of value. In a typical release scenario, a defendant (or potential defendant) offers to pay money to a plaintiff/claimant. The plaintiff, in turn, may accept that offer. Each side provides consideration/something of value to the other. The plaintiff/claimant gets money. The defendant gets a release from liability. Offer, acceptance, consideration.

Some release agreements are one page, others can be twenty pages or more. When an agreement is reached to settle a dispute, the parties need to memorialize their agreement with a writing. That is when a well written release is critical.

Litigants or claimants must be very careful when navigating these issues. A release may forever bar you from future compensation. In fact, that is the purpose of a release agreement, but that might not be your understanding when you enter into a release. This is why you need a Florida lawyer to review your release. At the same time, an attorney can help you can negotiate terms in the release that benefit you.

Going forward it is always best to consult with a licensed Florida attorney on this subject. However, your best move is always to understand what you are settling for and who you are releasing. You must also understanding the language of the document you are signing.

If you are facing the prospect of signing a release agreement, I can help you maximize your recovery and protect you from future litigation. Please call 561-391-1900 for a free consultation.

Daniel F. Dickenson, Esq.

Daniel is a trial lawyer specializing in personal injury, insurance litigation and general civil litigation in Boca Raton, Florida.  

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