It is a common scenario after a seemingly minor car accident – the driver who caused the crash steps out of her vehicle, checkbook in hand. “How about instead of dragging the insurance companies and the police into this,” she says, “I just write you a check for the damage right now? How does $500 sound? It’s just a little dent.” While this kind of offer can be tempting, it is not a good idea to take it. Always talk to a lawyer before accepting any kind of offer made by a driver who struck your vehicle. In the vast majority of cases, having a lawyer represent you will result in a much better outcome.
Why Should I Avoid Making a Roadside “Handshake Deal?”
No driver will offer to settle on the spot unless she thinks it will benefit her, often to your detriment. Never accept such an offer without consulting a qualified attorney. These are some reasons you should say “no” to this kind of deal:
- Loss of Rights – By accepting a roadside settlement, you may be giving up your right to sue or even file an insurance claim.
- Underestimated Damage – Delayed injury is a real risk in seemingly minor car crashes, such as rear-end collisions and other “fender-benders.” It may take several days or longer for you to realize that you have been hurt. The agreed-upon amount of a roadside “handshake deal” is unlikely to cover medical bills. Further, a seemingly minor accident may have caused more damage to your vehicle than you immediately realize.
- Duty to Report – In any car accident where someone is injured or more than $1,000 worth of property damage occurs, you have a duty to report the accident to the police within 10 days. Failing to report such an accident can result in having your license suspended.
- Criminal Activity – There is usually a reason – frequently a nefarious reason – the other driver does not want the police or insurance companies involved. They may have an active warrant, a suspended license, or drugs in their car. Intoxicated drivers may try to settle on the spot to avoid a DUI. Or, the at-fault driver may simply lack insurance.
Protect Yourself by Calling a Green Bay Area Car Accident Lawyer
Before you even consider accepting any kind of payment after a car accident, always consult an attorney. An experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney will most likely be able to secure a better outcome for you. Your attorney can also guide you through the process of filing a police report in accordance with the law, and later filing an insurance claim or lawsuit if it comes to that. The important thing is that you do not wait too long to contact an attorney – drivers who offer roadside handshake settlements are likely to make further efforts to avoid liability. The experienced attorneys at the Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. are ready to begin protecting your legal interests after a car crash right away. Call 920-739-7366 for a free consultation if you have been injured in a car accident.