Is It Legal to Settle a Car Accident Privately in California? 2024

If you have recently been in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you can settle the matter privately. A private settlement involves agreeing on an amount that can cover the damages and injuries associated with an accident without involving the insurance companies and the court. A California car accident attorney is often present to arbitrate and help all parties involved in the crash agree on a fair settlement.

Usually, after a car accident happens, the insurance companies of both parties involved in the accident are contacted. The insurance company of the at-fault driver is then responsible for paying out a reasonable settlement to the other driver. The advantage of avoiding this traditional settlement process is that time and bureaucracy can be spared, and the at-fault driver’s premiums won’t go up. However, the legality of private car accident settlements can be questionable. 

Is It Legal To Settle Car Accident Privately in California?

California Car Accident Reporting Legal Requirements

Before addressing whether car accidents can be settled privately, it’s important to understand that California has specific reporting laws for car accidents. If there is any injury involved in the accident, or if the value of the damages is more than $1,000, the accident must be reported to the California DMV by law. 

Furthermore, it’s important to note that, despite the circumstances of the accident, California law requires both parties involved in the accident to share their driver’s license number and insurance company details. 

Is Settling an Auto Accident Privately Legal? 

In certain circumstances, in which there are very minimal damages from a car crash and no injuries, it is technically legal to resolve matters privately. However, this can come at a high risk of negative consequences, including the following:

  • You May Not Reach a Deal: If you and the other party get into a dispute over what the settlement amount should be, you will likely need to get the insurance companies or courts involved. In that situation, your entire case will be set back, and you will have wasted crucial time and energy.
  • You May Not Get a Fair Deal: If you settle privately, then you might not get enough compensation to fully cover the damages and injuries accrued, as you may lack an understanding of the full extent of the damages.
  • You May Miss Your Chance to Seek Proper Compensation: If you notify your insurance company too late about your accident, they may not be willing to cover your future claims, and they might even increase your premiums. 

If you are unsure about whether your car accident case can be settled privately, it is important to work with a compassionate car accident attorney in California. They can help you assess all the damages from your accident and determine whether a private settlement would be feasible. 

Why Do I Need Legal Support After a California Car Crash?

Even if you perceive that the damages associated with your accident are minor, they may be more serious than you think. For example, many traumatic brain injuries take days or even weeks before the symptoms start manifesting. A knowledgeable personal injury legal team can help you secure a settlement that is large enough to cover all damages and injuries – even including those that might not be initially apparent. 

A California car crash attorney can assess all the details associated with your auto accident. They can then provide support in deciding whether a private settlement, a settlement through insurance companies, or a settlement through the courts would be optimal for your settlement process. By helping you choose a path that matches the needs of your accident, your attorney can save you money and stress in the future. 

FAQs

Q: How Much Do People Usually Get From a California Car Crash?

A: In the state of California, car crash settlements depend on a myriad of factors, including the value of the damages involved, the presence and severity of any injuries, and whether the at-fault driver was particularly reckless. Typically, settlement amounts can average from $2,000 to $80,000. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, your settlement amount may be lower or higher.

Q: What Is the California Car Accident Claim Statute of Limitations?

A: According to California law, the statute of limitations to submit a claim with the courts is two years. The statute of limitations is the time between the date of the accident and the date that a claim is filed. The two-year statute of limitations is applicable to pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and car and truck occupants.

Q: Is It Possible to Sue After a California Car Accident?

A: Yes, if you can prove that another driver was at fault for causing you property damages or injuries as a result of a car accident that they caused, it is possible to sue in California. Although personal injury car accident claims are typically associated with physical injuries, it’s important to note that there are viable claims that can be brought forward, even if there were no injuries.

Q: Is Settling Car Accidents Privately in California Legal?

A: While it is required by law to report an accident to CA law enforcement if the accident involves injuries or damages greater than $1,000, there is no legislation requiring insurance policyholders to report their accidents. However, it is likely that the policy agreement will require accident reporting. Therefore, if you do not notify your insurance company about the car accident, they may refuse to cover the accident, and they may even raise your premiums.

Work With a California Car Accident Lawyer Who Can Fight for Optimal Settlements

Oftentimes, the most negative part of getting in a car accident is the headache that comes after it. From having to assess damages and injuries, to analyzing accident details, to disputes with the other driver and their insurance company, you may become overwhelmed and exhausted on your own.
 
The California car accident attorneys at Kreeger Law Firm can manage your case productively, ensuring that the claims process is handled in detail. That way, you can focus on getting back to normal. Reach out to our firm today to get started.