It may be tempting to accept a check from the at-fault driver or their insurance company after a car accident. However, if the driver who was responsible for the crash hands you a check—and asks you not to report the accident in return—do not accept the money.
The driver’s check may not cover your car repair costs or medical treatment for your physical injuries that occurred due to the crash. You also will not get a guarantee that the check will not bounce.
It is also a bad idea to accept money if the at-fault driver’s insurance company offers to quickly settle your claim. Once you settle with an insurance company, you cannot ask for more compensation after finding the settlement does not cover all of your losses.
If you were in an accident and sustained injuries and vehicle damage, the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, can help you pursue compensation to cover your present and future damages. Call us today at 865-546-1111 for a free, no-obligation consultation. If you have a viable case, we can help you file an insurance claim or lawsuit and protect your legal rights during the process.
Why Is It a Bad Idea to Accept Money From the At-Fault Driver?
Negotiating an agreement with a stranger jeopardizes your ability to get future compensation. This is because you do not have a police report documenting the crash. You should report your crash as soon as possible after it occurs, so you can pursue full compensation for your bodily injuries and vehicle damage. Your auto insurance company will also want a copy of a police report for its records.
In our years of helping accident victims, we have found that at-fault drivers do not want to report car wrecks because they:
- Did not have auto insurance at the time of the crash;
- Did not have a valid driver’s license;
- Feared their auto insurance premium would increase if they reported one more accident;
- Already had points on their driving record and another accident would cause a suspension of their driver’s license; or
- Did not have permission to drive the car they crashed.
In the event an at-fault driver refuses to exchange contact information with you or hits your car and leaves the scene, you can file a police report and pursue compensation with your own uninsured motorist policy.
What If the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Offers Me Money?
If you accept a settlement, the insurer will have you sign a document saying you agree not to take further legal action against the company or the policyholder. If you begin to have more physical complications from your injuries that require specialized care, or the insurance check did not cover all of your damages, you cannot ask the insurance company for more money.
Generally, insurance companies want to save money. Insurers offer low settlements that do not take into account an accident victim’s future needs and expenses, or non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. An insurer may also offer a low settlement quickly after a car crash, hoping that your accumulating medical bills and lost wages will prompt you to accept it.
To get maximum compensation for accident-related damages, you need a skillful lawyer to negotiate the settlement.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Our lawyers negotiate for higher payouts from auto insurers because we know how to place a value on your claim. We do not only look at your present expenses; we estimate your future needs and expenses, as well.
An insurance company only places a value on quantifiable damages. Lawyers consider the emotional impact that paralysis, disfigurement, or other debilitating injuries can take on crash victims and their family members. As a result, we pursue compensation for non-economic damages, such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of consortium or companionship; and
- Disability or disfigurement.
We may also pursue punitive damages against the at-fault driver, depending on the factors of the crash. If the other driver acted maliciously, a judge may award punitive damages in your case.
Should I File an Insurance Claim or a Lawsuit?
The best course of action depends on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of your accident. Generally, we start by filing and negotiating insurance claims to help our clients settle their cases quickly and avoid a trial. When auto insurers fail to come through with fair payouts or refuse to cooperate, we do not hesitate to file a lawsuit and take the matter to court.
Contact Us for More Information.
If you suffered injuries in an auto accident and need help filing an insurance claim or lawsuit, contact the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, at 865-546-1111. We accept cases on a contingency basis, so you do not pay our fees until we recover compensation for your accident-related losses.