What Should You Do if You’re in a Car Accident?
If you’re ever in a car accident, the first thing you should do is check for injuries to yourself and your passengers. Then, if you’re able, step out of the vehicle and check on everybody else impacted by the car collision. Survey the damage done, too, and take photos or videos if possible.
At this point, you or someone else should contact law enforcement. While you await their arrival, exchange insurance information with the other driver.
Never at any point should you admit fault or say that you’re not severely hurt. We often say something like, “Sorry,” as if in a desperate attempt to explain our actions, even when it’s not our fault.
Resist the temptation to apologize, as it may be taken as an admission of guilt. And don’t dismiss your injuries, even if they are minor. You don’t know what a doctor will say after they look over you. Claiming that you’re not severely hurt can hurt the potential compensation you may receive.
But what if the other driver wants to avoid dealing with insurance? What if they want to avoid contacting the police or filing a claim?
What if the other motorist offers you money?
What to Do if the At-Fault Driver Offers Cash?
Sometimes, the other driver in a car accident may offer to settle things by giving you cash instead of filing a claim through insurance. In such cases, the money is often offered on the spot.
On the one hand, this may seem like it makes some sense. You won’t need to deal with law enforcement or the car insurance company. You could get money in your hand today instead of waiting out the lengthy process for financial compensation after making your insurance claim. It would avoid a lot of hassle. And, in a state of shock following an accident, you might be agreeable enough to consider accepting the offer.
The smart thing to do is to decline the offer, however politely.
Why Shouldn’t You Accept the Money That’s Being Offered?
Though it may be tempting to have the money now, it is generally not in an accident victim’s interest to accept cash after an accident. It is very unlikely that the at-fault drivers are carrying the cash equivalent of the finances you’d require following your car accident.
Let’s say that the at-fault party offers you close to a thousand dollars right then and there. That might seem like a lot of money at the moment (and it is!), but is it a sufficient amount to cover all of your losses following an auto accident?
Following a car crash, your damages may include:
- Emergency room fees.
- Lost wages and lost future income earning capacity.
- Medical bills and expenses for future medical needs.
- Physical therapy and rehab expenses.
- Property damage and vehicle repairs.
- Surgical expenses.
- The need to rent a car while yours is being repaired.
But also consider you may not know the full extent of your injuries or vehicle damages. What may seem like fair compensation at the time of the accident might not be sufficient once you understand how bad things really are.
So, don’t accept the offer that’s made. There’s no reason to get upset, though. Just politely decline the offer and say that you would rather solve matters by using your insurance companies.
Why Might Liable Parties Offer Money After Car Accidents?
Though accepting the offer is probably not in your interests, the at-fault driver likely has good reason to offer cash money instead of settling things through insurance.
Reasons the at-fault driver may opt to settle things with cash include the following:
- There is a warrant out for their arrest.
- They are trying to avoid increased insurance premiums.
- They are uninsured or underinsured.
- They desperately want to avoid getting ticketed.
- They have an expired driver’s license.
- They were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You may be sympathetic to their reasons. But remember your own pain and suffering. You need to look out for yourself and recover a settlement suitable for your losses.
Is it Against the Law to Offer or Accept Money Following a Motor Vehicle Collision?
Offering to settle things after a car accident with a cash transaction is not illegal. Nor is it illegal to accept the cash offer. But remember that they’re offering the cash not out of the goodness of their own heart but rather from a place of impatience or desperation. You would do well to wait for the money that would be awarded to you after working with a car accident attorney and filing your claim.
In most cases, accepting a cash offer will close your case. That means if you later try to file a claim – say, for example, additional damages only became apparent later on – the claim would likely be denied because you already settled the case with the at-fault driver.
Contact Us to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Experienced Car Accident Attorneys
If you’ve been in a car wreck, it’s crucial that you speak with a car accident lawyer without delay. You should not attempt to settle things on your own, whether by accepting cash or by dealing with insurance companies. An experienced California car accident attorney can be of invaluable assistance by taking care of the insurance company, a contentious opposing counsel, and other matters, allowing you the time to recover from your injuries.
To schedule a free consultation, please call our law offices at 909.325.6185.