After an accident, what do you do if the other driver offers you cash? Should you take it, or hire a Houston car accident attorney and go through the insurance claim process? This is a common situation car accident victims may find themselves in. We’ll discuss some of the potential dangers of taking cash at the accident scene and what to do instead in this blog.
Why Your Houston Car Accident Attorney Typically Advises Against Accepting Cash at the Accident Scene
Every situation is different, so it’s impossible to give generalizing advice. However, most lawyers do advise against accepting cash at the scene of a car accident. This is because there are many risks of taking the cash and not going through the insurance company for a car accident.
Now, this isn’t actually illegal. The driver can certainly offer you cash to try to avoid an insurance claim. It’s also not illegal for you to take the cash. However, it could end up hurting you more than helping you. Therefore, typically we recommend exchanging contact and insurance information after an accident. That way, you can file a claim if you need compensation for damages and injuries.
Risks of Settling a Case Without Your Houston Car Accident Attorney and Outside of the Insurance Company
Settling a car accident with cash right after an accident may seem like a good idea. However, it can come with many drawbacks. Some of the dangers of accepting cash from an at-fault driver in lieu of their insurance information include:
You Can’t Get Payment for Unknown Injuries
Immediately after an accident, you might not know about all your injuries. You may think you’re completely unscathed, but you don’t actually know without a medical evaluation.
For many people, adrenaline and stress run high in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. This can mask symptoms of your injuries. Also, in some cases symptoms may not appear until hours or days after the accident. This is why your Houston car accident attorney typically recommends getting a checkup from a doctor after an accident and also following up if any symptoms appear. This helps you know what kinds of injuries you’re dealing with before settling an accident.
Some common unknown or hidden injuries include soft tissue injuries (such as whiplash), traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, herniated disk, and psychological injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder. All of these can take time to appear and require medical attention.
Accepting cash at the scene of the accident often means you have no way to get compensation for your medical bills from unknown injuries. Insead, you may be left paying for those out of pocket.
Any Cash Offer is Based on a Guesstimate of Your Car’s Damage
Are you an expert in evaluating damage after a car accident? Probably not. These days, even a small dent can cost thousands to repair. Even mechanics often can’t tell the extent of the damage to a car after an accident without conducting a thorough inspection in the shop. Therefore, any cash that you accept after a car accident is based on essentially a guess of what it will cost to repair the damage to your car. Once again, this often means paying out of pocket for the difference. At that point, there’s often not much your Houston car accident attorney can do to track down the driver and file a claim for your additional expenses.
Can’t Collect Full Damages
After a car accident, you might think of the costs for medical care or to fix your car, but don’t forget that there are also other damages that may apply. One common example is lost wages. There’s a good chance you will need to take at least some time off of work to get a checkup from a doctor or seek treatment. You might even have to miss some work that day while dealing with the accident.
Also, let’s not forget that you might need a rental car to get around while your car is in the shop. Repairs can sometimes take days or weeks to complete, and Houston isn’t very easy to navigate without a car. Yet, rental car prices are quite high, especially as we continue to experience car shortages across the nation. Taking cash at the scene often means biting the bullet and paying these costs or living without a vehicle until yours is fixed.
In many cases, people forget about these indirect costs of a car accident. If you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit, your Houston car accident attorney can help you calculate full damages and try to recover them for you. However, settling without insurance often means you simply miss out on these.
It Might be a Scam for Insurance Fraud that Puts You on the Hook
While most of us want to think people have good intentions, often there are ulterior motives behind offering cash instead of going through the insurance company after a car accident. It might seem like you’re just helping them avoid higher insurance premiums, but we do have a word of caution for you – it could be a scam.
Here’s how this pretty common scam works:
A driver hits your car, such as by rear ending you at a stop sign. They offer cash instead of going through the insurance, claiming it will be easier for you and save them on higher insurance premiums later. Then, they file a fraudulent claim with their insurance company saying that you hit them and drove off. In some cases, they may even try to sue you with their own injury attorney. Because you never reported the accident to your insurance company, the police, or their insurance company, it often makes it difficult or even impossible to prove that you weren’t the at-fault driver. In the end, you could end up responsible for paying for their damages and injuries.
Therefore, this is another reason why your Houston car accident attorney may recommend going through the insurance company and not taking cash at the scene. It can help you get the compensation you need and also help you avoid later issues from a scam for insurance fraud by the other driver.
Houston Car Accident Attorney Tips for What to Do If You’re Offered Cash Instead of Exchanging Insurance Information
So, what exactly do you do if the at-fault driver offers cash instead of their insurance information? There are several steps to take to help protect yourself against the dangers we’ve mentioned above, such as:
Call the Police if They Refuse to Give You Their Insurance Information
If someone refuses to give you their contact and insurance information, then it’s time to call the police. It’s fine if someone offers you cash, but if that’s all they offer even after you say you want their insurance information, there’s not much else you can do except contact the authorities. Try to get their license plate number if you can, as there’s a chance the driver may leave the scene if they’re that insistent on not going through insurance. It may be that they don’t have insurance or that there’s another reason they don’t want to involve the police and their insurance company. In any case, contacting the police is the most logical next step.
Make Sure You Still Inform your Own Insurance Company
No matter what happens, you still probably have to let your insurance company know that you were in an accident. Most policies require you to inform them after any accident you or your vehicle were involved in. Failing to report an accident could void the contract you have with them and cause them to cancel your coverage. Even if you decide to settle the issue without an insurance claim, you need to tell your insurance company. Remember, informing the insurance company of an accident is not the same thing as filing a claim.
Talk to Your Houston Car Accident Attorney Before You Make Any Decisions
Generally, it’s a good idea to get legal advice from your personal injury lawyer before you make any decisions about how to handle your case. They can help you decide what kind of evidence you will need as well as how to proceed with your case. Your Houston car accident attorney is also often your best resource for legal counsel when seeking compensation for damages and injuries after a car accident.
Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC – A Houston Car Accident Attorney with a Great Track Record for Success
If you were injured by another driver’s negligence, contact the Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC. Mr. Horowitz is a board-certified personal injury lawyer with years of experience representing victims of car accidents, work accidents, and many other situations. Our team is standing by to help you receive full damages for your accident. Get in touch now to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.