29th July 2022
So, a reckless driver has hit your car. Or, you were riding on your motorcycle when you were struck by a negligent motorist. You might have been in a wreck on a snowy day and hit by someone who wasn’t driving safely enough, considering the conditions. Whatever the scenario, the at-fault driver offered to pay cash for the damage to your vehicle, as well as any injury you may have suffered?
Should you accept that offer?
Granted, this doesn’t occur very often. But when it does, it can create an incredible amount of confusion. If this ever happens to you, the wise choice would be to refuse that offer and get in touch with an automobile accident attorney with Sand Law. We’ll tell you the proper steps you should take, and we’ll work to make sure you get exactly what you need – without falling for any sort of shady cash deal.
Is it Legal to Offer Cash at the Scene of a Car Accident?
It’s obviously unusual for someone to try to offer a large amount of cash after they cause a car wreck. But technically it’s not illegal. The person who caused the accident is liable for whatever damages result, so why not just pay up without having to get insurance companies or attorneys involved?
It makes sense on the surface. But think about it. Why is this person making that offer? Here are a few potential reasons:
- They were driving while drunk, or under the influence of an illegal drug.
- They have a job they could lose if they have an at-fault car accident on their driving record.
- Or they don’t want to have to pay higher insurance premiums, so they don’t want their insurer to know what happened.
Should I Accept Cash from the At-Fault Driver?
This kind of offer could be very tempting for some people, of course. They don’t want to deal with all of the hassles involved with filing an insurance claim, or possibly even having to go to court.
But if you’re ever in this situation, accepting that money could be one of the worst decisions you will ever make.
First of all, you will have no idea of how much your damages will be. There will basically be no way of knowing how much it will cost to fix your vehicle. Also, you might not be feeling that bad, but you have no idea whether or not you’ve suffered a serious injury. You’re going to have a lot of adrenaline going through your body. Once that wears off, you might realize you’re hurt much worse than you thought. Some injuries don’t show symptoms immediately – they actually don’t manifest for days.
Remember that if you take that offer, you very likely won’t be able to obtain any more money from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurer would be well within its rights to say that the driver has already fulfilled their financial responsibilities by paying you out of their pocket. In all likelihood, you wouldn’t have any grounds to argue that the insurance company is acting in bad faith.
The importance of having a comprehensive picture of all of your damages can’t be overstated. Again, if you need medical attention it’s going to be incredibly expensive. Not only will you have to deal with the cost of doctor’s visits, what if you’re hurt so badly you need to stay in the hospital? What if you need surgery, or you ultimately need physical therapy? What about any prescription medications you might have to take?
You might think you’ll be ahead of the game if you accept that at-fault driver’s cash. But you could very well find yourself in a financial hole it will take years to escape – if you ever can.
Report the Cash Bribe to the Police at the Scene
Your best bet will be to simply refuse the offer and follow the proper protocols. That means telling the police everything that happened. In fact, you’re required by law to report the accident to police if it resulted in an injury or a death, or if it appears that at least $4,000 worth of property damage occurred.
Regardless of the cause of the crash, or how minor you might think it may be, if the at-fault driver offers you money to keep the accident quiet, that’s a problem. How many people carry around tens of thousands of dollars in their vehicle? Your damages could easily come to that much money, or possibly even more.
What if the other driver offers to write a check? You obviously won’t be able to tell if it will be good. Even if that person just happens to have a lot of cash with them, what if they promise to give you more if you need it? How can you be sure the contact information they give you is legitimate? How can you be sure that person won’t disappear forever?
These are just a few reasons why you’ll need to talk to the police. They will file a report, which you will use to go through the proper channels and file a valid insurance claim.
Call Sand Law After an Accident to Prevent Mistakes that Could Damage Your Case
There are simply far too many unknowns associated with accepting cash from an at-fault driver. You’ll be much better off in the long term by getting in touch with a Sand Law car accident attorney. A legal representative can help you obtain the full and fair compensation you have coming, and do it in a completely above-board manner.
If you really want peace of mind, this will be the way you should go. Our attorneys know how to do things the right way, and help our clients get what they deserve. We’d like the chance to do the same for you. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us online or calling 701-609-1510.