So you were driving down the road, and the day seems just like a regular one. but the next moment you find yourself closed up with another vehicle at a stoplight. upon checking you found out that your car has seen negligible scratches while theirs has seen better days.
the first thought you might have, is to not be taken to court or prison. this may persuade you to want to settle the case on your own, but this is where you will go wrong.
Can you Settle a Car Accident in Private?
one thing to remember when facing such a stressful situation, is that it is deemed illegal to settle a car accident personally. this is not a smart move specially if the ‘victim’ has sustained serious injuries to themselves and their vehicle.
in case of minor consequences(a small collision), where no one is hurt and no medical attention is needed, you can think about settling privately.
How much you can settle privately after a car accident depends on how much money you have. People with a lot of money can pay more for a private settlement than those with less. Sometimes, the driver who caused the accident might want to do a private settlement to avoid problems with their insurance company or because they don’t have insurance. But experts say it’s not a good idea to accept money right away without getting the insurance companies involved. This is because the full extent of the damage or injuries may not be clear immediately. Besides, a private cash settlement might not be enough to cover all the costs of damage and injuries.
When to Avoid Settling a Car Accident in Private?
Injury Caution: If you or someone got hurt in an accident, it’s not a good idea to settle your injury case without speaking to a lawyer first. Private settlements might not cover all your losses, including pain and suffering.
Extensive Damages: When your car has serious damage, it’s better to involve insurance. Repairs can be expensive, and you should ensure you get the full compensation you deserve.
Disputed Responsibility: If the other party suggests a private settlement and tries to blame you for the accident, consult with a lawyer. Don’t settle for less than what your case is worth. Liability should be determined after a thorough investigation.
Serious Accidents: Serious accidents often result in severe injuries, which may not be immediately obvious. If you settle without insurance, you might miss out on additional compensation once the full extent of injuries becomes clear.
Trust Concerns: If there are trust issues or discomfort between parties, settling privately can leave you vulnerable. Problems can arise, and it may become one person’s word against the other, leading to uncertainty and potential disputes.
How to Handle a Car Accident
After an accident, it’s crucial to exchange contact information with the other driver involved. This includes their full name, phone number, address, license plate number, and license details. Having this information allows both parties to stay in touch and manage the situation.
To protect your interests, it’s essential to document the accident thoroughly. Take photos of both vehicles involved, capture the road conditions, and any factors that might have contributed to the accident. Record the make and model of both cars and note all damages, specifying their locations. It’s also wise to keep a record of any payments made during the process. Communicating via email can help create a written trail of the discussions and agreements.
Get Multiple Quotes
If your vehicle requires repairs due to the accident, it’s a good practice to obtain repair quotes from multiple mechanics or auto repair shops. By doing this, you can compare the estimates and ensure you’re getting a fair price for the necessary repairs. This helps you decide whether it’s more cost-effective to pay for the repairs out of pocket rather than filing an insurance claim.
Making the arrangement legally binding means creating a written agreement that both parties involved in the accident agree to. This written agreement can serve as a legal record of the terms and conditions of the settlement or arrangement. If one of the parties is a minor, meaning they are under the legal age of adulthood, their legal guardian must sign the agreement on their behalf.
When to Avoid Insurance
- If the accident is minor and there are no personal injuries, it might be better to handle the situation without involving your insurance. However, it’s still important to see a doctor, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and adrenaline and endorphins can mask pain.
- When the cost of repairs is lower than your insurance deductible, it’s often more economical to cover the expenses out of your pocket.
- If you are at fault and have a history of making at-fault claims, your insurance rates may increase, or you might even lose your insurance coverage.
- If the accident happened on your property, only your vehicle was involved, and no one else was injured or no one else’s property was damaged, it’s usually more straightforward to handle the repair costs privately without involving your insurance.
Things to keep in mind if Wanting to Settle Privately
Agree on the Approach: If one person contacts their insurance while the other doesn’t, it can make things complicated. It might seem like the person not contacting their insurance is hiding something. Some insurance companies keep records anyway, which could affect future insurance costs if a claim isn’t made. It’s best to agree on how to handle the situation with both parties involved.
Report the Accident: Even if you don’t want to use your insurance, it’s essential to report the accident. Insurance companies usually need accident reports quickly. Not reporting it can prevent you from using your insurance later, even if your private settlement negotiations don’t work out. Reporting, even for small accidents, helps avoid legal problems and costly lawsuits.
Delayed Injuries: Some injuries may not show up until weeks later. If your insurance company doesn’t know about the accident’s details when it happened, both parties might be responsible for any medical bills that appear later. So, consider the possibility of delayed injuries when making settlement decisions.
Hidden Damages: Even if the accident looks minor, a mechanic’s check may reveal serious hidden damage. Settling privately before informing your insurance can lead to high repair bills, as insurance companies may reject claims without initial accident reports.
Take Action Today with Phillips Law Office
If you’ve recently experienced a car accident and are thinking about settling privately, it’s crucial to make well-informed decisions. Our dedicated team at Phillips Law Office is here to provide the guidance you need to protect your rights and interests. Remember the key steps: reporting the accident, reaching a mutual agreement, being mindful of concealed damages, and considering potential delayed injuries.
Don’t tackle the complexities of a private settlement on your own. Contact Phillips Law Office today for expert legal support. We’re here to help you make the right choices and ensure your financial well-being remains secure. Your future matters, and we’re committed to safeguarding it. Reach out to us now!