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Fort Lauderdale trucking accident case illustrates importance of consulting an injury lawyer before signing insurance documents

The Florida Court of Appeals overturned a trial court’s ruling in a Fort Lauderdale trucking accident case in which an insurance company attempted to use a signed “Property Damage” waiver to reject a personal injury claim.

This case illustrates the importance of consulting a Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. Insurance companies frequently present checks and paperwork for injury victims to sign in an effort to limit the company’s exposure to claims resulting from an accident. The more serious the injury, the more likely an insurance company will move aggressively to protect itself.

Please don’t sign anything after an accident — even paperwork presented by your own insurance company. We offer free appointments to accident victims throughout the Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and St. Lucie – Fort Pierce areas and will meet with you in a timely manner to discuss your rights.

In this case, a motorist signed a “Property Damage Release” after being rear-ended by a semi in January 2005. The trucking company’s insurance provider asked the victim to sign the release in order to obtain a check for $8,009.73 to pay for damages to his vehicle. He continued to negotiate on his personal injury claim and ultimately filed a personal injury lawsuit.

The trucking company moved to have the lawsuit dismissed based on language in the signed waiver that stated the victim released the company “from any and all claims, causes of actions, demands, rights, damages, costs, loss of service, expenses and compensation whatsoever … (including) foreseen and unforeseen bodily and property damage.”

The trial court granted a request by the trucking company’s insurance provider to dismiss the personal injury lawsuit based on the signed waiver. The Court of Appeals found that, while the language was clear, the title “Property Damage Waiver” was misleading. Additionally, exceptions allow for consideration of other facts beyond a document’s wording when it is alleged that the document was executed by mistake or that fraud or misrepresentation was involved.

While the Appeals Court reversed the trial court’s decision, it simply returned the issue to the trial court for additional arguments regarding the merits of the release. More than 5 years after the accident, the victims are still no closer to being compensated for injuries, medical bills, lost wages and other damages that resulted from being rear-ended by a semi.

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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