In Wisconsin, a signed release is a contract and freedom to contract has long been protected in this state.
Antrice Hart was injured when her car was rear-ended by a car that was pushed by a vehicle driven by Esvin Gomez. Ms. Hart immediately called Artisan and Truckers Casualty Company to report the claim. Shortly thereafter, an Artisan representative telephoned and discussed settlement with Ms. Hart. The representative told Ms. Hart she would need to sign a release to settle her claim. On the same day of the accident, Ms. Hart signed a release entitled “Full Release of All Claims with Indemnity.” In fact, Artisan had the release ready for her to sign when she went to the Artisan service center to drop off her car for repair.
Approximately 9 ½ months later, Ms. Hart filed a personal injury action, and Artisan moved to dismiss her lawsuit based on the signed release. The legal issue was whether the release Ms. Hart signed was admissible evidence. Wisconsin Statute section 904.12(1) bars admissibility of statements made or writings signed by an injured party within 72 hours of an accident. However, the Court of Appeals holds that this statute does not apply to releases.
Before you sign off on your injury claim, call Pinkert Law Firm LLP to discuss your rights. If it seems too quick, it probably is.