Can I Settle a Car Accident Privately?
You are at a stoplight on your way to your destination, and your car gets rear-ended. Your vehicle is practically unscathed; however, the impact destroys the bumper of the other car. The prospects of settling the car accident privately may be appealing to you, but it is wise to examine your options. Paying for damages out of your own pocket to avoid notifying your car insurance company or the other motorist’s insurance company to avoid a rate increase depends on several factors.
Is It Sensible to Settle Privately?
Overall, privately settling a car accident without the advice of your insurance company or legal representation is not a smart thing to do.
The only time you should consider settling the matter privately is when your car sustains only minor damage and there is no chance a personal injury claim will happen later.
It should be noted that an at-fault driver will often be the one to bring up the topic of a private settlement as a way to possibly steer clear of problems with their insurance company, or perhaps they do not have car insurance. Insurance experts caution against accepting cash to immediately settle an accident without getting the drivers’ insurance companies involved because the true extent of damage or injuries may not be clear for a while.
Also, a private cash settlement may not adequately compensate someone for damage or injuries.
An At-Fault Driver Can Save by Settling Privately
If your record with your insurance company shows that you have one or two at-fault claims in the past three years, the next accident claim could be the difference between maintaining your coverage and receiving a notice of non-renewal. If you do not lose your policy, your rates will adjust as soon as the surcharge is added at the next renewal.
If you rear-end another driver or you pull out in front of a motorist leaving them no time to stop, there is no denying that you are at fault.
If the other party involved in the accident is willing to settle the matter privately and you can afford to pay for the repair costs, then do so. However, the other party should sign a form saying you have paid the damages in full, to make sure you are in the clear.
Get an Estimate on How Much the Damage Costs to Fix
Settling a claim without your insurance company when you are in a single-car accident is simple.
There is not much blame to assign in such a case. You know that you are at fault in the accident and that you are obliged to pay for repairs to the property that is damaged.
Fixing a garage door, a fence, a parked car, or other damage to property that does not belong to you and your family may not be too expensive.
However, if you are not sure of the price and you file a claim through your carrier, your rates could go up even when the repair bills are slight.
There’s a damage reporting threshold of $500 to $1000 in many states. If the damage exceeds this threshold and you file a claim, your rates can go up.
Why You Should Not Settle a Car Accident Privately
Several reasons emerge for not settling a car accident privately. Among them are unnoticed car damages, medical issues that may arise, and your obligation to report the accident.
A minor fender-bender could turn into significant damage when an auto repair specialist examines your car.
There is also the potential that medical issues may arise later and you believe that you had matters resolved privately. However, these medical issues could have you paying the bill or being sued because your insurer refuses to cover any claims associated with the accident; a future claim stemming from the accident may be denied.
You should feel comfortable not reporting a mishap only if the accident occurred on your property, and only your car was involved, nobody was hurt, the only property that was broken is yours, and the repair bill is minimal. For example, if you hit your fence backing out of your driveway, it is probably possible to avoid notifying your car insurer about the incident.
Just because you do report an accident, it does not mean your auto insurance rates will surge once you are up for renewal. You will face a possible rate increase after you file an accident claim, but not after you simply report an accident to your insurer.
New Jersey Car Accident Laws
New Jersey is a no-fault car insurance state, and you need to file a claim under your own personal injury protection coverage to get compensation for medical bills and other financial losses, regardless of who caused the accident. Only if your injury claim meets certain requirements can you step outside of no fault and bring a claim directly against the at-fault driver.
If the other driver was responsible for your car accident, their insurance company will need to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses you sustained.
You have two years, starting from the date of the mishap, to get your car accident injury case started in the New Jersey court system.
Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Advocate on Behalf of Clients in Car Accidents
If you have been involved in a car accident, even if you believe it to be minor, it is best that you cover yourself from any issues that may arise in the future. The experienced Highland Park car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight to make sure you receive the compensation for which you are entitled. We have been helping clients in car accidents since 1975 and can help you, too. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.