Can you settle a car accident case without involving the insurance company?
Yes, you can try to settle a case with the at-fault driver without involving your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, but I would not recommend it. Why? This is why we all pay through the nose each month for auto insurance, in case something happens. So, if you are in an accident, you definitely should take advantage of the fact that we are all required to have valid car insurance. I have seen instances where an at-fault driver may offer immediate case, a few hundred dollars or so to say “let’s not report this to our insurance company”.
A car accident settlement letter without insurance
The type of situation mentioned above is a red flag immediately. A person who is offering you money for injuries or damage to your car usually has a very good reason to keep his insurance company out of it: he may have not paid his premiums or he may have had a lot of claims himself.
Bottom line is that I do not recommend cash transactions to settle car accident cases. Again, we all pay insurance premiums every month and every year, and we are all entitled to be reimbursed or compensated for our injuries. The insurance companies will nickel and dime you ever step of the way, but that is what lawyers are for. Lawyers will protect you and fight the insurance companies to get you the money or compensation that you rightfully deserve. It should not be this way, but unfortunately insurance companies have created this system where you cannot get proper compensation unless you hire a lawyer. If insurance companies offered fair settlements to claimants without lawyers, from the beginning then lawyers would not be needed. So, I do blame the insurance companies for this system of compensation.
For example, if you make a claim against an at-fault driver, he will and should notify his auto insurance carrier. When he notifies his carrier, the carrier (let’s say it is Geico as an example) will contact you, the injured party and try to take a recorded statement. Why does the insurance company take your recorded statement? They want your recorded statement so that they can use it against you if a lawsuit is filed later by your lawyer. So, never give recorded statements over the phone or in person. You are not required to give a recorded statement to anyone. It can only reach up and bite you in the ass if you have your deposition taken as the defense attorney will have a copy of your recorded statement. Any inconsistencies between the recorded statement and your deposition will be blown way out of proportion to make it look as though you are lying. Your credibility and believability will be attacked time and time again. Accordingly, do not give anyone a recorded statement.
The next thing an insurance company will try to do is to offer you pennies on the dollar for your injuries. The insurance company may make you an offer of settlement in the very first week of your accident. Why? To save their money and profits in protection of their company and shareholders. Despite the fact that the insurance companies make billions of dollars per year in profits, they are going to try to settle your case for $1,000 or $2,000 right now! You do not even know the extent of your injuries in the first week. I have had many clients who did not feel much pain in the first few days after a car crash. However, they start to feel pain on day 8 or day 10 and there is no other cause but the car crash. So, be very careful about taking any settlement money from the insurance company right after your accident. Do not do it!
You would not try to change your own sink, if you are not a plumber. So, please do not try to settle your own case if you are not a personal injury lawyer. There is a reason that lawyers have to attend University for 7 years and later pass a grueling bar exam. Lawyers know better the value of your case, whether you even have a case and how to proceed with the handling of your case. Some people may need the $2,000 as it is more than they had to begin with, but it is just a “token” or “nuisance” settlement in the eyes of the insurance company. By settling with you now, they know they are preventing you from getting an experienced lawyer on your side. They play a numbers game and they are very good at this. The insurance companies are very successful at getting injured victims to take a little money before they hire a lawyer. The insurance claim’s adjusters even get a bonus or gifts for settling your case early and without legal counsel. So, yes, you can settle your case without a lawyer but it is a very bad idea.
A personal injury lawyer with over 10 years of experience, Ryan Malnar serves Colorado Springs with honesty & integrity.