Is It Legal to Settle Car Accident Privately, and Should Injured Victims Do It?
There are a lot of considerations when it comes to handling a car accident. The at-fault driver may want to settle the matters privately without the involvement of the insurance company. However, doing so can put them in a troubling financial situation if the other driver decides to pursue a claim later on.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have a successful track record of winning big against insurance companies because they know all the insider secrets.
Those who have suffered injuries in a car accident due to another's negligence in Toledo, Ohio, must reach out to Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to learn more about their rights.
Is It Legal to Settle Car Accident Privately?
There is nothing in the law that prevents drivers from settling car accidents privately without the involvement of an insurance company. However, that doesn't mean that it is a wise thing to do.
The only time that it makes sense not to get input from the auto insurance company or a Toledo vehicle accident attorney is when the accident involves minor damage and when the at-fault driver is sure that there are no chances of an injury claim popping up.
Although it's legal to make private settlements, auto insurance companies warn drivers from accepting cash settlements privately, as the damage or injuries may not be so apparent immediately.
There is also the matter of how much can the at-fault driver afford to settle a car accident "claim" privately. Some people may have an excellent financial standing, allowing them to afford any cash settlement privately, while others may not have the resources to pay for the damages out of their pockets.
Why Would At-fault Drivers Make Private Car Accident Settlements?
There are a few reasons why an at-fault driver would settle a car accident privately without the involvement of their insurance company, some of which include the following:
An Insurance Claim Could Drive Up the Premiums
When deciding on the premiums, an auto insurance company looks at many factors, including the history of car accidents. If the other driver files a car insurance claim against the at-fault driver's insurer, it may lead to trouble and increased premiums.
The At-fault Driver May Not Have Insurance
Car insurance is mandatory in almost every state, but the premiums and minimum coverages may vary. The at-fault driver may want to engage in a private settlement if they don't have an auto insurance policy, as they could end up paying hefty fines, face jail time, or even get their license suspended.
Why Should Injured Parties Avoid Settling Car Accidents Privately?
There are several reasons why an injured party should avoid settling a car accident privately, some of which include the following:
There Could Be an Undetected Vehicle Damage
A minor car accident may have much greater repercussions than one can imagine. At first glance, a fender-bender may not look concerning, which may prompt the parties to settle the matters privately.
However, it could be much more severe, and the severity of the damage may not be apparent until the driver takes the vehicle to an experienced mechanic for evaluation.
In such situations, if the driver accepts the private settlement without notifying their auto insurance company, they may end up paying thousands of dollars from their own pocket to pay for the damage after an evaluation from the mechanic. An insurer may deny claims after finding out about the private car accident settlement.
Medical Issues May Arise Later
Some injuries are not so apparent at the time of the car accident, while others may take some time to manifest. Settling a car accident privately might seem like a good idea, but what happens when the driver starts developing symptoms a week or a month down the road?
The injured party may want to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver rather than their insurance company, as the insurer may refuse to cover any damages since its policyholder failed to notify it about the accident.
If that happens, the at-fault party may have to pay out of pocket for the injured party's medical bills, which could sum up to a considerable amount.
Policyholders Have an Obligation to Report the Accident
When a driver buys an auto insurance policy, the underwriting often mentions the reporting requirements. In most cases, drivers must report car accidents to their insurance companies; otherwise, the insurer may deny the personal injury claims.
The only time a driver may forego the reporting requirements is when the accident occurs on their property, causes minimal damage to their vehicle, and there are no other parties involved.
A driver, for example, could skip notifying their car insurance company if they get into an accident while backing out of their garage.
How Can an At-fault Driver Settle an Accident without an Auto Insurance Claim
If the at-fault driver feels confident that the crash was a minor accident and that there is no possibility of injuries manifesting in the future, they can follow the steps below to settle a car accident privately:
Document the accident: It's best to take pictures of the accident scene and the vehicles involved as evidence.
Draft and sign an agreement: When settling a car accident privately, the at-fault driver must draft a settlement agreement and get it signed by all the parties involved. This binds everyone to the legal document.
Get a police report: It's a wise decision to get a police report, even if it isn't mandatory in the state where the accident occurred. The police report acts as official documentation of the incident.
Get multiple quotes: The at-fault driver should contact a couple of mechanics to get several quotations on the vehicle repairs to ensure that they get the best deal.
When Should Drivers Settle Car Accidents Privately?
If a driver gets into a minor car accident, they may want to settle it privately if the damage to the other driver's vehicle is less than the at-fault driver's insurance deductible.
However, if there are injuries involved, it's best to notify the insurance company and file a claim to avoid liability.
Even if the other driver files an insurance claim against the at-fault driver's insurer, there is no guarantee that the insurer will accept it and process the payment.
In most cases, insurance companies make it challenging to pursue claims, and they might even blame the injured victim. It's best to reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer to provide legal guidance and protect the victim's rights. They can also provide answers to questions like Are u turns illegal in Ohio?
Go to War Against Insurance Companies with Experienced Trial Attorneys
Those who have suffered injuries due to another's negligence in Toledo, Ohio, should call (833) 692-5038 to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be eligible for damages. They will go to war to ensure that the injured victims receive the compensation they deserve.