After a traffic accident, an at-fault driver may sometimes offer the victim cash at the scene. Although it may seem like an easier solution, it is often not a good idea to accept cash. If you do, it will likely not be enough to cover the full cost of your damages. It may also harm your chances of recovering full compensation if you decide to go ahead and file an insurance claim.
At Anderson & Cummings, we are dedicated to holding at-fault parties accountable for their negligent actions and are prepared to help you seek maximum compensation for your damages.
Below, we discuss what you should do if offered cash from the at-fault driver at the crash scene.
Why Would a Texas Driver Offer Cash?
In cases of relatively minor collisions, an at-fault driver may try to offer the crash victim cash at the scene to resolve the matter right away.
Sometimes, however, there are more serious reasons an at-fault driver might not want the crash reported. For instance, a driver may be concerned about getting points added to his or her driving record or being hit with higher insurance premiums. If the at-fault driver was also breaking the law, such as speeding or driving under the influence, he or she may be trying to avoid legal troubles.
The at-fault driver may also offer cash to avoid potentially paying you more in a legal claim especially if he or she has assets that could be used to pay for expenses not covered by the available insurance.
Is It Against the Law in Texas to Exchange Cash at an Accident Scene?
Technically it is not against the law to exchange cash at the scene of an accident. Therefore, the at-fault driver offering you cash in exchange for not reporting the accident or filing an accident claim is not committing a crime.
However, there are times when reporting an accident is mandatory under state law. In Texas, drivers are required to report a crash if it involves:
- Injuries or death
- Damage not on the involved vehicles
- Property damage totaling more than $1,000 to vehicles
Failing to report an accident in any of these situations carries serious legal penalties in Texas, including up to $5,000 in fines and possible jail time. This is just one of the reasons it is generally best practice to report an accident, even when the at-fault driver is offering cash to pay for repairs.
Why Should I Reject Any Cash Offered to Me at the Scene?
There are other reasons it may be in your best interest to reject a cash offer from an at-fault driver. The most important one is that you may be able to recover more compensation through an insurance claim. This is especially true if you have a lawyer on your side.
Your Injuries May Be More Serious Than You Think
Another reason you should reject a cash offer from an at-fault driver is that you do not yet know the extent of your injuries. Even if the collision is minor, as is generally the case when someone offers you cash, you could still have suffered a serious injury.
Since you do not know the extent of your injuries, you also cannot know what it will cost you to treat them. For example, something as minor as a whiplash could take several physical therapy or chiropractor visits before you gain full range of motion in your neck and back. These doctor’s visits quickly add up, and you could be looking at several thousands of dollars’ worth of medical bills. It is highly unlikely an at-fault driver is prepared to offer you more than a few hundred dollars at the scene of a crash.
You May Be Eligible for Non-Economic Damages
Many people may not realize they may be eligible for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. If you accept money from the at-fault driver at the crash scene, it may hurt your ability to recover those damages. This is a mistake that could potentially cost you thousands of dollars in compensation.
You May Be Hurting Your Chances of Filing an Insurance Claim
If you accept cash from the at-fault driver at the scene of the crash, and then later decide to file a claim, it may get denied. In this situation, the insurance company may try to argue that your claim is not valid because you already accepted compensation directly from the driver.
Although this may not be a good enough reason to deny a claim, it does not mean the insurance company will not try it. If you do not have an attorney to help you, it is likely you may not be aware of your right to appeal the denied claim to pursue the compensation you need.
Do Not Negotiate On Your Own. Call Us Today
If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it would be in your best interest to speak to our Fort Worth-area car accident lawyers as soon as possible. We are prepared to help negotiate for maximum compensation with the liable insurance company. If negotiations fail, we are also prepared to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
We do not charge you anything while we work on your case, so there is no risk in giving us a call today.
Free consultation. No risks. Call (817) 920-9000.