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Why You Shouldn’t Settle Your Case With the Other Driver at the Scene of the Accident


In many kinds of car accidents, people who cause those accidents, will make offers, there on the spot, to pay for some or all of the damages of the other driver (the victim). This can be a tempting (and easy) offer to accept. But be wary, because accepting an offer for money at the scene of a car accident can lead to some unexpected problems.

How and Why On-Scene Offers are Made

The offer usually comes informally at the scene of the accident, but can come after the accident as well, especially if the parties to the accident have exchanged contract information. The party liable for the accident may offer to pay the victim’s medical bills, medical expenses, or damage to the vehicle.

Usually, the party making the offer says that he or she is doing so “to make things easier” or to “keep insurance out of it,” or any other similar, seemingly logical reasons.

But there may be less altruistic reasons why the other driver is offering to just settle the case.

That driver may know that he or she was distracted, or may have been drunk, or may be driving on a suspended license—that is, there is some reason why this other driver is so anxious to settle the case “under the table.”

Don’t Break the Law

Even if you wanted to just accept an offer or money from the negligent driver and drive away, be wary—aside from all the other reasons why this is a bad idea, it’s also potentially illegal if you don’t call the police; by law, accidents that cause damage to cars more than $500, or where there are any injuries must be reported to police.

Settling On Scene is a Bad Idea

Even if you do report the accident to police, that doesn’t mean you legally have to contact insurance-you still can, legally, settle your case privately with the other driver—though that’s not a good idea.

Remember that if you do accept money from the other driver, you could be settling all damages in your case, for that amount of money.

So, if the other driver paid you $1,000 for damage to your car, that’s all you are getting. You cannot later sue the other driver for lost wages, or pain and suffering, or because you need a surgery that you didn’t think you would need when you agreed to settle the case privately.

You also could jeopardize your own insurance. All insurance policies have deadlines, within which you have to report claims. If you decide that you will settle with the other driver privately, then a month later, the other driver doesn’t pay, or doesn’t offer as much as you thought, or there is some other problem—you may not be able to rely on your own insurance to pay anything that they otherwise would have paid.

Don’t go it alone. Contact our Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian and schedule a consultation today for a free consultation to help you get the compensation you need.


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