Spousal signatures on settlement agreements
If your spouse was in a car accident and the time has come for settling their case, you may be receiving a phone call from the personal injury attorney requiring you to come in and sign settlement papers, along with your spouse. This may include a closing statement, the settlement check itself (an endorsement) and a settlement release from the insurance company. The reason for this is that the Wisconsin is a marital property law state, so technically, there is a claim by the non injured spouse to the proceeds. The second reason, is that the spouse may have their own derivative claim for loss of society and companionship or loss of consortium, and by signing such a release, the spouse is also waiving any claims that they may as part of the settlement.
Sometimes when I have a client who is married and the insurance company knows about it, they still don’t require the spouse to sign any of the closing papers and release, and other times, a different insurance company will require it. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to what insurance companies require. It is a good practice, I think, when representing an injured party on a settlement of their case to have their spouse come in and cooperate with signing any closing papers, whether required of the insurance company or not. In that way, there cannot be any questions down the road by the non-injured spouse of what went on at the settlement of the case, the non-injured spouse is fully aware of all of the settlement details, and if there was any type of separate derivative claim of the non-injured spouse, on a more significant type of injury case, that the claims of both spouses are properly settled and resolved, leaving no open holes or gaps in the resolution of the claim(s).