Consider the following scenario: You are sitting at a red light when your vehicle is suddenly struck from behind. In the moments that follow, you feel shaken up, but you do not feel seriously injured. You get out of the car to check on the damage, and there are a few dents or scratches. The driver who hit you gets out of his vehicle and he has his checkbook out. He says something to the effect of, “Why don’t we just settle this without calling the police or insurance companies. You think $600 will cover the damage?”
It might be very tempting to skip the hassle of calling the police and filing an insurance claim, but doing so could cost you far more than you might think. You risk giving up important rights, and you could even inadvertently violate the law. With this in mind, you should never accept any compensation after a car accident before speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Reason #1: The Possible Extent of the Damage
The most obvious reason you should not accept a “handshake” settlement is that there is no way to immediately know how badly you were injured or how much damage your vehicle suffered. Whiplash, for example, or even traumatic brain injuries might not be evident for hours or days after the crash. There is also a good chance that the amount being offered will not even cover the costs of repairing your vehicle, let alone any medical care that you need.
Reason #2: Losing Your Rights
One of the hidden dangers of taking a roadside settlement is that you could lose your right to pursue further compensation. By taking the other driver’s money, you could potentially be forfeiting your ability to seek damages through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. The other driver’s testimony that you agreed to settle the matter could be enough to derail your efforts in continuing to pursue the case.
Reason #3: Breaking the Law
In the state of Wisconsin, you are required to report a traffic accident that causes bodily injury to a person or property damage of $1,000 or more. If the police do not file a crash report with the state, you must do so yourself in certain situations. Failure to do so could result in fines or even criminal charges if the accident is serious enough.
A Green Bay Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
For more information about the dangers of handshake settlements after a car accident, contact the experienced Appleton personal injury attorneys at Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. today. Call 920-739-7366 for a free consultation and case evaluation with a member of our team.