Many circumstances in life involve signing important documents, from buying a house or car to signing an employment contract or insurance agreement. But how many people really take the time to read a contract rather than blindly signing it? Failing to do so is very risky because you're bound by what a document says, not by what you think it says.
The following tips may help you determine whether or not you should sign a document (although always consult with an attorney when you're not sure):
Determine the document's importance
Some documents will be more important than others. Anything involving your employment, an insurance claim, or other significant matter deserves to be examined very carefully.
Pay attention to the document, not to what someone is telling you
In most cases, a written document overrides anything someone may tell you. Don't rely on what you're being told by the person or company who's trying to get you to sign. Instead, go solely by what the document actually says, unless the changes are put in writing on the document and initialed by both parties.
Read headings and skim paragraphs
To understand the main points of a document quickly and efficiently, thoroughly read headings and skim paragraphs for the main points. The most important information is usually in the beginning and end of a paragraph about a particular topic. Keep an especially close eye out for important words and phrases such as "agree to", "shall", "shall not", "surrender", "relinquish", and "prohibited from".
Resist pressure to sign
It may be awkward to ask for more time, but it's better than signing something you don't understand. Be polite yet firm, and rather than saying something specific about the situation, just say you never sign anything without fully reading and understanding it and explain you need a little more time to do so. If you're facing undue pressure, such as when you're being terminated from your employment, sign it with a note saying, "Signing as to receipt only" and get a copy. This signifies that you received the document but you aren't agreeing to its terms.
Request more time and consult an attorney
If you have any doubt at all about the terms of the document or feel pressured to sign, take the document home and review it line by line when you have more time and aren't under pressure. If you still have questions, ask an attorney to take a look at it. It's far easier to get advice before you sign a document than to deal with unpleasant consequences afterward.
If you've been injured on the job or involved in a car accident, have doubts about signing, contact the Las Vegas injury lawyers at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez for a free consultation.