The car accident claim scenario is: you have been involved in an auto accident, your car has property damage, you feel sore, and the collision wasn’t your fault. Then while you’re getting out of the car, the other driver comes to you and tries to offer you cash after the accident to pay for the damages. Should you take it?
Absolutely not! The other driver is trying to avoid an insurance claim or getting the police involved. It is NOT illegal to take the cash, but it will cause more harm than good if it isn’t enough. It could even be a scam. Here are the risks and what our lawyers recommend you should do instead.
Why Is Accepting Cash Bad?
In almost all cases, the other driver is trying to keep you from making an insurance claim by offering cash at the scene. They may even refuse to give you their insurance information. Without their insurance information, you cannot make an injury claim for your damages.
Any cash offered by the driver is a guess of just how much your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and car damage are really worth.”. You do not know how injured you are or just how much repair your vehicle needs. Many soft-tissue injuries won’t appear until hours or days after a crash. By then, the driver will be long gone.
Your recovery time may also have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses like lost wages or the cost of transport if you can’t drive yourself. These can be more expensive than you think, and the other driver probably isn’t thinking of those.
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Accepting Cash Is Considered a Settlement
Let’s say you accept the cash and you find out it isn’t enough. It’s possible to track down the other driver’s insurance information, but if the insurer finds out you accepted cash at the scene, they may deny your claim.
Once you accept any kind of settlement offer, you can’t get more later, even if you discover additional damages. You can’t go back to the insurance company to ask for more. By accepting cash at the scene, the insurer will say that you’ve already been compensated out of the other driver’s pocket, so they don’t owe you anything more.
Fighting against this can be impossible, and will certainly require the help of a personal injury attorney. It’s much better to avoid taking cash at the scene and making an insurance claim instead so you have the best chance of getting the full value of your compensation.
Don’t Fall for an Insurance Scam
Getting offered cash at the scene of an accident is also a setup for a common insurance scam. If you fall for it, the law could force you to pay the other driver a lot of money and have a very hard time fighting the claim. Here’s how the scam works.
- You take money at the scene and don’t trade contact or insurance information. They might say it’ll be much easier for you, or try to make you feel pity about raising their insurance.
- After you leave, the scammer makes a fraudulent claim that you hit them and drove off from the scene. You might also receive notice of a lawsuit from an injury attorney claiming this.
- Without evidence of a report to the police or to the insurance companies, it’s very difficult to prove that you didn’t do this, and the fault will fall on you because it looks like you did a hit-and-run.
Even if you prove that the other driver committed insurance fraud, getting what you’re truly owed will take a long time and cost a lot of money. Save yourself from getting scammed and always insist on talking to the police, a lawyer, and your own insurer about an accident.
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What to Do Instead of Taking Cash
You can protect yourself by taking steps to protect yourself from drivers who want to give you less than you deserve, whether they’re fraudsters or just scared of higher premiums or getting caught driving without insurance.
If a driver refuses to give you their contact information or their insurance, call the police and try to get the driver’s license’s plate number. Stay at the scene until the police show up. The other driver might drive away, but if you have the license plate number, then you can get the insurance information of the other driver.
Also, contact your own insurance company to notify them of the accident. This is a requirement by them to continue covering you. If you don’t report, they can cancel your policy. You must do this even if you decide to settle with the other driver outside of the insurance system, and it will help protect you from insurance fraud.
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Always Involve an Auto Accident Lawyer
The last step is to always involve an Arizona car accident lawyer. In the rare case that someone offers you cash in good faith to settle an accident and still offers insurance information, a lawyer can tell you if the amount you’re offered is enough to cover your needs.
They can also track down a reluctant driver’s insurance information and help you file a claim, or even sue the other driver for their assets if they have no insurance. A lawyer is your best protection against bad settlement offers and insurance fraud schemes.
Lawyers can also calculate the true value of your case. There may be many damages you could receive that you do not know you could ask for from the insurer. Approaching them alone could make you leave a lot of money on the table.
Contact Zanes Law for Advice
If you live in Arizona, have been in an car crash involving another vehicle, and someone tries to offer you cash after an accident, we don’t recommend accepting it. The risks are too great and you could become a target for insurance fraud, which could cost you thousands of dollars.
Always insist on insurance and contact information, as well as talking to the police, before leaving the scene of an accident. Then, contact Zanes Law for further legal advice. We are an Arizona injury law firm with car accident lawyers in Phoenix and Tucson. To reach us, call us at the number on your screen or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation.