If the other party offers you cash on the site, should you pocket it? Car accidents in Irvine, CA can result in damages ranging from minor to major. Minor car crash damage typically includes damage to the vehicle. Major damage may extend to your person and can include serious personal injuries. In either case, it is typically a good idea to consult an Orange County car accident lawyer in the wake of the crash.
When May An At-Fault Driver Offer Cash?
If you have suffered a relatively minor car crash in Orange County, a car driver may attempt to offer you cash compensation on the spot. This is typically done for a number of reasons:
- The at-fault driver doesn’t want you to report the crash and make it a part of the driver’s record. If the crash was caused by a traffic violation, the driver may also receive a traffic citation if you report the crash. The cash offer may be an attempt to avoid that citation.
- The at-fault driver doesn’t want the crash to become a part of their insurance record, which may cause an increase in their insurance premium.
- The at-fault driver doesn’t want to undergo the lengthy car crash claims process and instead wants to settle the matter immediately.
- The at-fault driver doesn’t have any auto insurance, so he or she offers to pay you cash instead.
These are some of the reasons why the other driver may try to offer you cash and resolve the matter on the spot. However, it is not always a good idea to accept cash.
Is Offering and Accepting Cash Legal?
Under California laws, the at-fault driver is legally obligated to compensate you for any losses sustained in the accident. When a driver offers cash as compensation for your crash-related damage, it is perfectly legal. Similarly, if you accept the cash offer, that is also perfectly legal. There is no law that bars the at-fault driver from making cash offer, or prevents you accepting the cash offer.
However, there may be other reasons why you shouldn’t readily accept cash following an accident. Here is a look at these reasons.
Reasons Not to Accept A Cash Offer
The cash offer made by an at-fault driver is typically on the scene of the accident. It looks attractive because it lets you get immediate compensation for your losses. The other option is to undergo the lengthy process of filing a claim with the insurance company which can takes days, weeks, or even months.
That being said, accepting a cash offer has numerous disadvantages:
You Don’t Know the Extent of the Damage
You don’t exactly know the extent of damage to your vehicle, and neither does the other driver. So any cash offer you receive is an estimate at best. You may ultimately need to spend a lot more on repairs or replacement of your vehicle.
You Have No Way to Determine the Cost of Your Injuries
You have no way to determine the actual cost of your crash-related injuries. In fact, on the crash scene, you don’t even know the nature or severity of these injuries. Even if you have no visible injuries, you may have internal injuries. Only a qualified physician can examine you and determine whether you have any injuries from the accident. So if you end up accepting a cash offer and later realize that the costs of your injuries are many times the offer, this may put you at a disadvantage.
You May be Entitled to Additional Damages in Your Car Crash Claim
California Code Section 3333.2 allows you to recover both economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury incident. For instance, you can seek damages for pain and suffering caused by crash-related injuries. An on-the-spot cash offer doesn’t account for such damages. Cash offers usually cover only the immediately visible economic damages.
Accepting the Offer May Reduce Your Chances of Filing a Claim Later
Typically, drivers must exchange insurance details and other information in the wake of a crash. This is so that a claim can be filed with the at-fault driver’s insurer later. But if you accept cash, the other driver may not share such information which can significantly reduce your odds of filing a successful claim.
It is also important to note that whether or not you are offered cash by the at-fault driver, you are required to report an accident if:
- It results in injury or death
- It involves property damage in excess of $1,000
How Can an Orange County Car Accident Attorney Help?
If you have been involved in an Orange County crash, it is important to consult a qualified lawyer before you consider a cash offer. Here at the Crockett Law Group, we will look at the specific circumstances of your case to determine whether a cash offer will be to your advantage. We will also work with you to file a car crash claim if needed. Reach out to us now to discuss your claim with our lawyers.