Should I Accept Money from the At-Fault Driver at the Crash Scene?

Sometimes the at-fault driver may offer the victim money at the crash scene to avoid having to file a claim. The at-fault driver may try to settle the matter on the spot instead of exchanging insurance information and calling the police.

Although it may sound like a good idea and a way to avoid all the hassle involved after a crash, you may want to reconsider. Accepting money is for the at-fault driver’s benefit, not yours.

Additionally, any money you are given may not be enough to fully cover your damages, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs. You may only be putting a couple hundred or thousand dollars in your pocket.

It is important to know what to do in these situations to protect your right to pursue compensation. You can learn more about your available legal options in a risk-free, zero-obligation consultation. Our firm works on a contingency fee-basis, so there are no upfront fees. We only get paid if you get paid.

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Why an At-Fault Driver May Offer Money

If you have been in a relatively minor crash, the at-fault driver may be more likely to offer you money at the scene. This is typically done for multiple reasons. For instance:

  • The at-fault driver may not want the crash reported because it will become part of his or her driving record. If the driver was speeding, he or she may get ticketed if the police respond.
  • The at-fault driver may not want the crash reported to avoid it impacting the cost of his or her current insurance policy. The crash could increase the driver’s insurance premium.
  • The at-fault driver may be uninsured or have no licence or a suspended licence.
  • The at-fault driver may offer money to avoid potentially having to pay you more in a legal claim.

Is Offering and Accepting Money Illegal?

It is perfectly legal for the at-fault driver to offer you money and for you to accept that money.

However, compensation generally comes from an insurance claim to help cover medical care, vehicle repairs and other crash-related damages. A cash offer at the crash scene will more than likely not cover all the damages you suffered. You do not want to have to pay out of pocket for your expenses.

Reasons to Not Accept Money at the Scene

It may be tempting to accept money at the crash scene. You can receive immediate compensation and do not have to go through the claims process. However, there are more disadvantages than advantages.

You Do Not Know the Extent of Your Injuries

After a crash, it is impossible to know the full extent of your injuries. You may not realize how serious your injuries are. A doctor is the only one who can examine you and any injuries you sustained.

You may have delayed injury symptoms that require extensive medical care. Even if you do not feel much pain or have no visible injuries, you may have a hidden brain injury. If left untreated, this type of injury can be catastrophic. Brain injuries may worsen an existing condition or lead to a new injury.

Your injuries may result in a longer recovery time, which means more medical expenses. This can put you at a great disadvantage financially if you have already accepted money from the at-fault driver.

The Amount of Vehicle Damage is Unknown

You will not know the extent of damage done to your vehicle. This includes the cost of vehicle repairs. Any money you received is a rough estimate at best.

Your vehicle damage may appear minimal but may be more extensive. There may be suspension damage. You may end up needing to spend more money than you realized on repairs and replacement parts.

You May Be Able to Get Additional Damages

You may be eligible to receive additional damages in an insurance claim, such as lost wages from missed work. In Ontario, crash victims could recover both economic and noneconomic damages.

For instance, you could pursue compensation to help cover the pain and suffering you have experienced since the crash. Cash offers at the scene do not account for such damages.

Hurting Your Chances of Filing a Claim Later

The at-fault driver may try to reassure you about taking the money by giving you his or her phone number. The driver may say that you can call him or her if you need more money or decide to file an insurance claim. However, the phone number may be fake, and the driver may not answer your calls.

If your injuries are serious and you happen to obtain the at-fault driver’s insurance information, the insurance company may not want to compensate you for the difference. They may argue that because you accepted money at the crash scene, the driver has already fulfilled his or her legal duty to compensate you.

When You Are Required to Report a Crash

Even if offered money at the scene, you are required to report a crash in the following situations:

  • The crash resulted in injury or death
  • $2,000 or more in damage to all vehicles

Both you and the other driver must stay at the scene until the police arrive. The law also requires that you let the police if you suspect the other driver involved is guilty of a criminal act (i.e. drunk driving).

Learn How a Lawyer May Be Able to Help You

If you have been in a crash, we recommend reaching out to a qualified Windsor vehicle accident lawyer at our firm before you accept money from anyone. The initial consultation is free and confidential.

You are under no obligation to retain our services, but if you do, we charge zero upfront fees.

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