After an accident, the negligent driver may apologize and offer cash to pay for damages. This may seem like a convenient route where you can privately settle the car accident, avoid contacting your insurance companies, and bypass other hassles. However, we strongly advise against this.
Opting to accept cash instead of settling a car accident with an insurance company or lawyer will not be in your best interest. There are several reasons to avoid accepting cash after a car accident. These reasons may include the following:
- Undetected vehicle damage
- Delayed injuries
- Rental car expenses
- Negligent driver scams
Keep reading for more in-depth coverage of each of these reasons.
Undetected Vehicle Damage
Accidents may appear to be minor at the scene. Accepting a couple hundred dollars from the other driver after the fender-bender may seem to be an easy resolution for the little damage on your vehicle.
However, neither you nor the other driver(s) can know the true extent of the damages at the time of the accident. After a professional autobody shop has inspected the vehicle, you may learn that your damages total thousands of dollars, not just hundreds.
At the scene of the accident, you may feel physically fine and decide to accept the cash offer to cover car repairs. After adrenaline wears off though, you may begin to notice stiffness in your neck and back a few hours, days, or weeks later. Unfortunately, by accepting the cash offer and not notifying your insurance, you may be responsible for your own medical expenses. Certain insurers have a window where you can notify them about a car accident. After time has passed, your insurer may no longer be required to cover your medical fees.
Rental Car Expenses
Most auto insurance policies will cover the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. At the time of the accident, you may not have considered this issue and now realize the money you accepted will not be enough to cover the costs of your rental.
Negligent Driver Scams
You can never be sure what a negligent driver’s intentions are. Accepting their offer will save them from higher insurance premiums and yourself a hassle, but you may be walking into a common insurance fraud scam.
By offering you cash, you and the negligent driver agreed not to report the accident. The driver could then file a fraudulent claim with their insurance saying you hit them and drove off. In more severe cases, they may try to sue you with their own injury attorney.
Since you accepted the cash offer and therefore never reported the accident to your insurance, the police, or the other driver’s insurance, it becomes difficult to prove you were not the at-fault driver. In the end, you may become responsible for paying damages you did not cause.
Obligation to Report
Outside of the reasons to avoid accepting a cash offer, auto insurance companies usually require you to report the accident. If you decide not to report it, a future claim from the accident may be denied. Additionally, in the state of Idaho, you must notify the police if you were involved in a car accident where someone was killed, injured, or the property damage was over $1,500. Failure to do so may result in fines and driver’s license suspension.
A scenario where you may not have to report an accident is if it was a minor mishap that occurred on your property, no one was injured, and the only damaged property was your own. For example, you took too wide of a turn into your driveway and accidentally ran into some of your lawn decorations. In this case, it may be okay to forego notifying your insurance provider about the incident.
Accepting a cash offer to quickly settle an accident could result in more hassles later. It’s important to protect yourself by reporting the incident to the police, your insurance, and contacting an experienced attorney if anyone was injured. Find more information on steps to take after a car accident here.
May, Rammell & Wells can help you understand your legal options to recover financial compensation after a car accident. Call today at (208) 623-8021 or contact us online to learn how our legal team can help you.