Should You Accept Money Offered At The Scene Of An Accident By The Other Driver?
Let’s say you are in a car accident. At the scene of the accident the other driver, who caused the accident, offers you money to make the case go away. That is, the other driver wants you to take the money, and agree not to report the accident-to the insurance company or to the police.
It sounds like a tempting offer. Easy money, and it even sounds like the liable driver is doing something honorable, by taking responsibility for the accident right there, thus saving you the “hassle” of making an insurance claim, or calling the police.
But taking money from at-fault drivers is generally a bad idea.
Why is the Offer Being Made?
First, consider why someone might offer you cash right at the scene of the accident to “make it go away.”
The other driver may be drunk, or under the influence of drugs, and is fearful that calling the police could lead to larger consequences. The driver may just not want his or her insurance rates to go up. The other driver may be driving on an expired or suspended license.
Other Risks to Taking the Money
Whatever the reason, there are risks to accepting cash from an at fault driver at the scene of the accident.
There is nothing inherently illegal about just taking money from someone at the scene of an accident. But you do risk breaking another law; by law, any accident where anybody is injured, or where there is property damage to vehicles of over $500, must be reported to the police.
Aside from the legal requirements, if you do need to access your own personal injury protection (PIP) funds to help you pay for medical bills or lost wages, your insurance company could deny you, on the basis that no report was made.
The other risk of taking money, is that it could be seen as a full and final settlement of all claims in the accident. That means that later, if you have more injuries than you thought, you are out of work longer than you thought, or you don’t recover the way you think you will, you won’t be able to go back to the other driver for more compensation.
Remember that at the scene of an accident, you may be full of adrenaline. You may not even feel any pain, but you could very well be injured. You have no idea if in an hour, or a day, you will suddenly have pain, and thus, more severe medical problems than you first thought.
That’s not to mention damage to your car—you also have no way of knowing whether your car is more damaged than you think.
But if you just accept cash at the scene of the accident, you would be stuck, without compensation, with all these damages and losses.
Let us help you get the compensation you need after your accident. Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for a free initial evaluation of your case.