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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Powell

Is It Legal to Settle Car Accident Privately? | Missouri Laws

Car accidents are an inconvenience for everyone involved. Even if no one was injured badly and one or both vehicles only suffered minor damage, dealing with an insurance company claim can be annoying.


In cases involving a minor car accident, for example, it may seem convenient to settle privately. This means paying out of pocket for all the expenses related to the accident and not involving a car insurance company, which could trigger an increase in auto insurance rates.


Now, is a private car accident settlement worth it? It depends on the case. Each car accident claim is different, and both parties involved will (and should) go for the option that's more convenient for them.


Settling privately in Missouri is legal in some cases, but that doesn't mean that everyone should do it.


This page will cover everything related to private settlements and where it may be a better idea to consider it instead of involving third parties.


Why Are Drivers Tempted to Settle Car Accidents Privately?


It's mostly a matter of convenience. A private settlement means that the affected parties get their money faster, which is crucial if they must pay for certain expenses quickly, such as fixing a broken fence or a parked car that got hit.


Insurance company claims often take a lot of time to settle, especially if both parties claim they're not at fault. This process involves research, negotiation, and court proceedings in some cases.


Other drivers avoid involving their insurance company after an accident because that could affect their premium rates later. Even though this seems like a valid reason, it's usually not worth the risk.


Should Drivers Consider a Private Settlement?

Should Drivers Consider a Private Settlement?


In most cases, settling privately isn't a great idea, especially without getting a legal counselor's opinion first. Even if it seems like it's impossible that an insurance claim will pop in later, everyone should always consult a car accident law firm in St Louis.


Why Private Settlements Aren't a Good Idea

There are many reasons why settling privately isn't convenient for anyone. Here's an overview of the most important ones:


Undetected Damage

It applies to the drivers and their cars. First, it's hard to know if someone sustained a serious injury right after an accident. Things like whiplash or herniated discs don't tend to present symptoms immediately.


If the victim accepts a private settlement and starts feeling pain later, they won't be able to file a claim anymore. This means they will have to deal with all their medical bills on their own.


As for vehicle damage, some cars look perfectly fine after small impacts, but that doesn't mean they didn't get damaged. Some common problems a car can experience after an accident include:


  • Structural damage

  • Suspension issues

  • Electrical malfunctions

  • Mechanical malfunctions


Legal Obligations

Most of the time, an auto insurance company will require the driver to report if they were in an accident. There may be a few scenarios where the driver may not want to do this. If the accident was on their private property and no one was injured, it may be more convenient for the driver to deal with the expenses on their own.


Other than that, it's not a good idea to not notify insurance companies after an accident. In the best-case scenario, the company will increase the driver's premium rates in the future.

If the company considers it appropriate, though, it may choose to deny future claims or cancel the policy right away, which leaves the driver without any protection.


To summarize, drivers should always report their accidents unless they're 100% sure that they won't face future consequences because of them.


Potential Extra Insurance Policies

In some cases, the victim may miss out on extra compensation if they settle privately. Some at-fault parties have additional insurance policies besides the minimum liability coverage required by law.


These people often leave that information out conveniently so that they avoid starting a legal process.


It's important to evaluate the driver's options with a professional attorney to ensure the decision they're making is the one that will get them the most compensation. They can also help answer questions like are u turns illegal in Missouri?


When Should People Settle a Car Accident Privately?


People should only consider private settlements when the accident is minor. The problem with this is that sometimes, what seems to be "minor" is more dangerous than what people think.


Some injuries won't appear right away, meaning that they may have to pay hefty medical bills after settling. Even if there wasn't any physical damage to the drivers, the car could suffer "invisible damage," which is something that only a mechanic would notice after inspecting the vehicle.


It's important to note that both parties should be willing to follow through with a private settlement for it to work. If only one person wants to settle privately and the other one doesn't, they may still have to deal with the entire insurance process.


Another factor to consider is that some insurance companies require drivers to report whether they settled an accident without filing a claim. If the company notices its policyholder didn't make a report, that could affect them later.


Bottom Line - Why Getting in Touch with a Lawyer Is Important

Bottom Line - Why Getting in Touch with a Lawyer Is Important


Settling a car accident without involving an auto insurance company may be tempting for many, especially in minor car accidents.


However, the victim must consider all possible factors surrounding the accident to determine whether it's convenient for them to settle privately. Sometimes, it may be better for the victim to settle through an insurance claim and wait a little longer.


Knowing which option is better for victims can be complicated, which is why it's always a great option to get assistance from a legal professional. Attorneys have experience with car accident settlements and can quickly determine which option benefits the victim the most.

To get started, victims must get as much information as possible from the other driver, including their address, license plate number, phone number, etc. This will help the lawyer build a solid case and get in touch with the other party faster.


The experts at Powell Law can help car accident victims navigate their cases and come up with the best strategy to maximize their settlement money. Usually, the at-fault driver will try to settle privately to pay less money and get the case over with. However, if this isn't viable for the victim, the attorney will do everything necessary to ensure they get justice.


Those interested in evaluating their case should schedule a free consultation today.

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