Are At-Fault Drivers Allowed to Offer Cash at the Scene?
April 28, 2021
No matter how cut-and-dry a car crash claim may seem, it will likely be months before your attorney is able to reach a settlement. That is why crash victims are often tempted to accept a quick settlement offer from the insurance company, or a cash offer from the at-fault driver immediately after the crash.
Even though you may be tempted to accept a cash offer, the whole thing may seem suspicious. Are at-fault drivers breaking the law by making these kinds of offers? Why is it often a bad idea to accept these kinds of offers?
Phillips Law Group’s experienced Phoenix-based auto accident lawyers discuss these situations in more detail below. Learn why it is important to talk to a licensed attorney about any settlement offers, either from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company.
Offering Cash is Not Illegal
It is not against the law for an at-fault driver to offer you cash for your medical treatment and/or damage to your car. Arizona is an at-fault state, so the at-fault driver is legally obligated to compensate you for your damages. However, compensation usually comes from an insurance claim, not a cash offer.
The at-fault driver is probably offering cash because he or she does not want to go through an insurance claim. Even if a claim seems relatively straightforward, there can be a lot of paperwork to fill out and phone calls to deal with. The at-fault driver may feel this is too inconvenient.
The at-fault driver may not want the accident to be reported to the police or his or her insurance company to avoid a potential traffic citation and increase in his or her insurance premium.
It is also possible the at-fault driver does not have insurance and he or she does not want to face the consequences of being caught driving without coverage.
It is important to keep these things in mind if the other driver does offer cash after a crash. Even though there may be a short-term benefit to accepting the cash, the at-fault driver is offering it mostly for his or her own benefit, not yours.
Problems with Accepting a Cash Offer
There is no way the at-fault driver can know how much it may cost to treat your injuries or fix your car. What seems like minor damage may be significant and your vehicle may be a total loss. It is doubtful the at-fault driver will have the several thousand dollars you would need to even make a down payment on another vehicle.
There is also no way the at-fault driver can know all the injuries you suffered and how severe they may be. You may not respond to treatment as well as other patients, which may result in a longer recovery period. This can dramatically increase the cost of your medical treatment.
It is important to remember there are other damages you may be able to recover in an insurance claim, such as wages lost from missed time at work. People often do not think about those kinds of damages immediately after a crash.
If you accept a cash offer but later want to file an insurance claim, you may not be able to. When at-fault drivers offer cash, they may say you can contact them later if you need more money or wish to file a claim. However, even if the other driver gives you his or her contact information, he or she may not answer the phone when you call or respond to messages you leave.
Unless the at-fault driver provided his or her insurance information, you may have no way of finding out what insurance company to call to file a claim. The at-fault driver may say you can call him or her later to get insurance information, but there is no guarantee he or she will provide that information when you call.
When Are You Required to Call the Police?
Victims and at-fault drivers are required to remain at the scene of a crash until the police arrive. The crash must also be reported if it causes injury or death or property damage of $1,000 or more. While it is not illegal for the other driver to offer cash, it may be illegal for you both to reach an agreement and leave the scene.
Unsure What to Do After a Crash? Phillips Law Group is Here to Help
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