Getting into a car accident can be anything but fun. You’re day is suddently interrupted with an incident that can be violent, painful and costly, and damage to your vehicle can be the least of your worries. That’s why it can be extremely tempting to accept loosely formed terms of an immediate cash offer at the scene of an accident. Firstly, when the other driver admits fault, there’s one hurdle you don’t have to jump. You won’t have to deal with an insurer looking to deny liability. You have a cash offer up front, sometimes a seemingly compelline one. If there doesn’t seem to be a lot of damages to your vehicle and you feel relatively fine, suffering perhaps just a few bumps and bruises in the aftermath of the accident, the cash offer may seem like a sweet deal.
But beware the cash-at-the-scene “settlement offer” when you get into a car accident. The fact is a sketchy offer at the scene really almost always only benefits the other driver. The reason is they may avoid a hike in their deductible, but you now are on the hook for any and all resulting damages that may develop.
The fact is, when drivers accept a quick offer at the scene, they may not sign a waiver, but becuase police will not likely be called to the scene, the accident will go unreported. At best, you can only guestimate the cost of damages that you can see at the time of the accident. If they end up costing substantially more than you anticipated, there’s likely no going back to the well to get those paid. Likewise, it’s often difficult to know whether or not you have suffered severe medical injuries at the time of the accident. You may get out of the vehicle feeling just a little bumped and brused, but you could actually have suffered a soft-tissue injury, like whiplash, whose symptoms may take weeks to manifest.
Calling the police is probably your safest bet for documenting the accident and protecting your right to compensation should you need to file a claim. If damages seem minor and there are few or no discernable injuries, simply asking for their insurance information and their contact details will cover you should something major in terms of cost or medical care develop later. Should you refuse cash at the scene and the other party refuses to share their insurance information and contact details with you, your best response is to call the police and report the accident.
Another reason to refuse a quick settlement offer at the scene is insurance fraud. While it’s not a crime to accept cash in lieu of filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, you may be left on the hook should the entire accident be part of an insurance fraud ploy that has been playing out over the past few years. When it happens, a driver stops suddenly, thereby facilitating the driver behind them to rear-end their car. They get out and offers a quick cash settlement at the scene explaining it will be quicker and easier for you and you’ll help them avoid a large hike in their insurance premiums. If you accept the cash and go your way, they can file a claim with their insurer and simply say you left the scene. They may also sue you for damages.
While accepting a quick cash offer at the scene may seem like a quick fix to a painful headache you never saw coming, it can also open you up to a lot more headache all the way around, if you’re not careful.
Remember to awlays collect insurance and contact details from the other party in the aftermath of a car accident and seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney like those at Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago. They can help assess fault and personal injury damages you’re entitled to in your claim.
Call us at 773.881.9000 if you have any questions about filing a car accident claim. There is no charge for the initial consultation, and we never collect a fee unless we recover damages for you.