Our advice: ‘If you get hit, keep it legit.’ Protect yourself by reporting your car accident and filing an application for auto No Fault benefits with your insurance company
As an auto accident lawyer, I see this all-too-common scenario all the time. People getting a seemingly minor traffic collision and the “at-fault” driver attempts to make the problem go away by offering to pay cash so the crash goes unreported.
I get it. Nobody wants to file an insurance claim or see their auto insurance premiums go up.
But, do you know what you could be giving up by not calling the police to your accident scene and/or not notifying your car insurance company? Sweeping a car accident under the rug could cost you your medical benefits in Michigan that you may one day desperately need, your economic livelihood, and your peace of mind.
Here is my list of the top 4 reasons why a Michigan automobile accident victim shouldn’t accept a so-called ‘cash settlement’ at the accident scene:
- You may lose your No Fault medical benefits
- Car damage is expensive to repair
- Denial of your Mini Tort
- You could be more injured than you think
Below, I’ll discuss each reason in greater detail.
You may lose your No Fault medical benefits
Michigan is a No Fault state, meaning your auto insurance provider must provide an auto accident victim with various economic and medical benefits, regardless of who caused the crash.
But insurance companies will of course deny your claim to wage loss compensation and payment of your medical bills if you never report the car accident or file a No Fault application for benefits.
Most people don’t understand how important these Michigan No Fault benefits are, so I’ve provided a short video about your legal rights and how you can claim auto No Fault PIP – or Personal Injury Protection – insurance benefits.
It’s unwise to settle what at the time seems like a minor vehicle damage claim with the at-fault driver (who was but a stranger to you until a few moments ago) until your vehicle has been carefully inspected by a professional and you know the full extent of the vehicle damage and, more importantly, the full extent of the vehicle damage repair costs.
And far more important than vehicle damage is your own health and well-being. As an auto accident lawyer, I’ve handled countless cases where people are hit in a car accident or get rear-ended and they think the discomfort in their neck or minor whiplash symptoms will quickly go away. Often when the neck injury is minor and muscular soft tissue, it does. But not always. Many people have tears in the spinal disc of their neck or back that go on to further herniate and rupture in the days and weeks that follow a car accident. Not filing an insurance claim means that expensive neck surgery or back surgery will not be covered. The same can be said of people with concussions and mild traumatic brain injury. Many people go on to make full recoveries – but there is a significant percentage of the population that does not. The costs for treatment of concussion and brain injury can reach tens of thousands of dollars, and if no claim is made, no medical treatment will be paid for when you may desperately need it.
Car damage is expensive to repair
Car damage, even if it appears to be minimal, can end up costing you up to thousands of dollars to fix.
A dented bumper could cost upward of $900 to repair, a deep paint scratch could cost $1,500, and you could be paying $10,000 out-of-pocket if your rear frame was damaged. The damage may look minor, but you could end up dropping some serious cash to get your car in working order.
Denial of your Mini Tort
Under Michigan’s Mini Tort law, victims of auto accidents can recover a maximum of $1,000 for vehicle damage from the driver that caused a crash, or the “at-fault” driver.
If you do not involve the police in the accident, you have no way of proving who was at-fault for the collision, making you unable to collect your mini tort and recover money for car damage.
If you’re not familiar with your Mini Tort rights or would like to learn how to claim compensation for your damaged vehicle, I would suggest watching our video on the matter or downloading our free Ebook.
You could be more injured than you think
As I wrote above, any motor vehicle accident, no matter how mild, has the potential to cause serious bodily injury that results in missed work and incurring expensive medical bills.
You may feel fine after a crash (often thanks to the spike of adrenaline flooding through your body). But far too often serious injuries are “masked” and can show up days or even weeks after an auto accident. Just like someone who has a headache that “disappears” when they stub their toe, there are often personal injuries that are very serious, but that are masked by a more acute injury. This happens all the time, with conditions like mild traumatic brain injury being ignored at the time of an emergency room visit because of more acute injuries like spasms and pain and fractured bones. The pain medication that people take further mask these problems and it isn’t until often weeks afterwards that the problems from, for example, a brain injury become fully apparent.
Many insurers will require a police report and all insurance companies in Michigan will require an application for No Fault benefits (Are you starting to see a pattern here?) to be made.
The time periods for reporting a car accident can also be much shorter than you think. For instance, while you have one year to file an application for benefits with your own auto insurance company, it’s not uncommon to see these same insurers require that a police report be filed within 30 days of a motor vehicle accident where the auto accident victim is claiming “uninsured motorist” and/or “underinsured motorist” benefits. So if the victim turns out to be suffering from serious injuries that hadn’t yet become apparent at the accident scene, then he or she may lose out on important and necessary pain and suffering compensation if the at-fault driver turns out to be uninsured (over half of the drivers in Detroit are now driving uninsured, by the way) by not filing a police report.
So, that few hundred bucks the “at-fault” driver waves at you or promises to pay if you drive away and don’t report your car accident may sound good at the time. But not reporting a car accident and taking cash could have huge and dangerous ramifications for your future.
Take my free advice: Call the police and get your auto insurance company involved by filing a claim.