After a car accident, people are often worried about how they will pay for all the damages. While some have to turn to insurance claims and lawsuits, others might be offered a cash settlement almost immediately.
If you are offered a cash settlement out of pocket from the at-fault driver, you should be very wary of accepting. Do not accept any offer until you can speak to a lawyer. You risk losing out on compensation because your damages might be worth more than the defendant offers. The other driver might have ulterior motives, like keeping the crash private and not reporting it to the police or insurance companies. An experienced attorney can help you assess your actual damages, avoid unforeseen risks, and prevent you from being taken advantage of. Even so, you might want to accept the offer if, after talking to a lawyer, you believe it adequately and fairly covers your damages, and there are no risks or consequences.
If you were offered a cash settlement after a crash, call our Maryland car accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 and schedule a free case evaluation before you make a decision.
Should I Accept a Cash Settlement from the At-Fault Driver After a Car Accident?
What happens after a car accident can be hard to predict. In some cases, the other driver comes at you with accusations and hostility even though they were clearly at fault. In other cases, the at-fault driver might immediately realize they are in big trouble and try to smooth things over with you by offering a cash settlement.
If the other driver makes a quick offer of a cash settlement they will pay out of pocket, you should be very skeptical. There is a good chance that the other driver simply pulled a number out of thin air, hoping you would not question it. Do not accept the offer until you have discussed it with our Baltimore car accident lawyers.
Cash settlements can be tempting. The fact that the at-fault driver is willing to pay out of pocket usually means they have the money on hand and can deliver it to you quickly. While the idea of getting compensation as fast as possible is compelling, you should avoid making any decisions just yet. There might be legal ramifications you are unaware of.
The Risks of Accepting a Cash Offer Immediately After a Car Accident
Taking the cash and moving on might seem like a great idea, but there is usually a catch. This is why it is crucial that you discuss the offer with a lawyer before getting back to the other driver with a decision or a counteroffer.
One problem you might encounter is that the offer might not accurately reflect your damages. How could the at-fault driver possibly know what your damages are and what adequate compensation should be? There is a good chance they have simply selected an amount of money they are comfortable paying to make the problem go away. After talking to a lawyer, you might find your damages far exceed the money offered by the other driver.
You should also consider whether the other driver might have an ulterior motive for their seemingly generous offer. Perhaps they hope an offer of fast cash will incentivize you to keep the accident private. If they are uninsured, they risk penalties legal penalties for driving without insurance. Alternatively, they might want to avoid negative consequences from their insurance companies, like an increase in premiums.
Suppose the other driver wants to leave the police and insurance companies out of the accident. In that case, you might be penalized for not reporting the accident to the police or your insurance company. If you keep everything a secret, there is no way to prove who was at fault later, and your insurance company will not like this one bit.
Why You Should Discuss a Cash Offer from the At-Fault Driver with Your Attorney
The first rule of settlement negotiations is never to accept the first offer. This includes quick offers of fast cash. Even if you think the other driver’s offer is generous, you should not accept, at least not immediately.
You should first talk to your attorney about your actual damages. If anyone knows how to evaluate your damages from the accident accurately, it is an experienced accident lawyer. There is a chance your real damages are much greater than what you were offered. If so, your attorney can help you open negotiations or explore other legal options.
Your attorney can also help you avoid unforeseen risks or penalties. When the other driver offers you cash, they might ask you to keep the police and insurance companies out of it. This is not unusual in minor accidents where damages are minimal. However, if your accident is more serious, your attorney can advise you of the risks of withholding information from the authorities. In short, it is never good.
Your attorney can prevent you from being taken advantage of. Once you accept a settlement, even one in cash, you might waive your legal rights to take any further action. The other driver might be banking on you taking the first offer so that they get off the hook for anything else.
Reasons Why You Might Accept a Cash Offer Out of Pocket from an At-Fault Driver
You should only accept a cash settlement so quickly if it adequately covers your damages. This might be easier in cases where damages are minimal, like a minor fender-bender. It might also be something to consider if you know the other driver and believe they would not want to take advantage of you. Regardless, it would be best if you put the offer on hold and at least make a phone call to your lawyer to get their advice.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers to Discuss Possible Settlement Offers
If you were offered a cash settlement after a crash, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 and schedule a free case evaluation with our Bel Air car accident lawyers before you make a decision.