What Are the Risks if I Accept a Cash Offer From an At-Fault Driver?

man offering cashA driver who causes a crash may offer you money at the scene of the accident in hopes that you will not file a claim against the driver’s insurance company or get the police involved. There are various reasons why someone may not want either of these entities involved and usually, none of them are to benefit the victim of the crash.

It is generally a bad idea to accept a cash offer from an at-fault driver. Below, our Sacramento-based auto accident attorneys discuss the risks associated with accepting an offer like this, including potential legal repercussions.

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call the Arnold Law Firm today to discuss your claim during a free consultation.

You May Be Required to File a Report

While it is not exactly illegal to accept a cash offer from someone who crashed into you, there are times when you may be legally required to file an accident report. Since the person offering cash usually does so to avoid filing a report, you could be in legal trouble if you accept the cash and never report the crash.

In California, drivers are required to report crashes that involve:

  • More than $1,000 in property damage
  • Injuries of any degree (major or minor)
  • Death

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, drivers have a maximum of 10 days after the incident to report the collision.

It is difficult to determine whether the damage in an accident amounts to more than $1,000. Therefore, as a rule, it would be in your best interest to always report a crash, no matter how minor the damage, to avoid getting into any legal trouble.

You Do Not Know the Extent of Your Damages

You are not going to know the full extent of your damages at the scene, including the cost of medical treatment and the cost of repairing your vehicle. You cannot know the cost of repairing your vehicle until you visit a vehicle repair shop so they can give you an estimate.

Even after meeting with a doctor for the first time, you will not know the full cost of your medical treatment. Your attorney can help determine these costs once you fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement.

If you accept a cash offer from the at-fault driver, it is highly unlikely that the offer will cover these costs, and you will be left with bills you might not be able to afford.

A common negotiating tactic from drivers who offer cash after an accident is to provide their contact information in case your expenses pile on, and you need more money. However, these people almost never provide accurate phone numbers. Even if they do, your calls are likely to go unanswered.

Since you do not know the extent of your damages after a crash, it is best to find out before accepting any type of settlement from the liable party. Our attorneys are prepared to investigate your claim to determine the full value of your medical bills, vehicle repairs and other economic damages.

You May Be Eligible for Additional Compensation

Another risk of accepting cash from the at-fault driver is that you may be eligible for additional compensation, like future damages and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Accident victims have a right to pursue all compensation owed to them. This means you may be able to recover compensation for things like:

  • Future medical expenses, if your injury worsens and requires surgery, additional or ongoing treatments in the future.
  • Lost wages/earning capacity, if your injuries prevent you from working for a time or require you to accept a lower-paying job because you cannot perform your old duties.
  • Emotional and physical sufferingthe pain accident victims feel and how it affects their everyday life, both physically and mentally

With help from our attorneys, you may be able to prove you experienced these damages and therefore should be compensated for them.

Your Claim May Be Denied if You File One Later

If the cash you accept from the at-fault driver is not enough to cover your damages, and you decide to file an insurance claim, you may be denied compensation because you missed the filing deadline.

Even if you filed the claim within the designated time, the insurance company may try to argue that your delay in filing means you did not suffer the damages you are now claiming.

Additionally, the insurance company may try to claim you broke the law by accepting the cash and not reporting the accident. Since California law requires any collision that results in injuries, no matter how minor, to be reported, the denial could be legitimate.

It is never a good idea to wait to file a claim because the insurance company will use that hesitation on your part as a reason to deny or devalue your case.

Do Not Accept the Cash. Call Us First

If a driver who crashed into you tries to offer you cash after the collision, call the Arnold Law Firm for help. Our attorneys are prepared to help you file a claim with the liable insurance company to pursue maximum compensation.

The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.

Call 916-777-7777 today.