Can I Settle a Car Accident Privately?

private settlements

The cost of minor car accidents can often be overestimated because of the potential future damage. Because of this, some drivers decide that private settlements can be more efficient and cost-effective. There are multiple risks and benefits of settling without insurance, and it is ultimately up to the driver to decide what they believe is best for them.

How Do I Settle a Car Accident without Insurance?

The following steps should be followed when settling a car accident without insurance:

  • Exchange contact information. Motorists should obtain the other driver’s address, full name, phone number, license plate number, and license number.
  • Record what happened and keep a paper trail. Someone should take pictures of both vehicles at the time, the conditions of the road, and anything that may have played a role in the accident. It is important to take notes of the make and model of both cars and all damages and their specific locations. Drivers should keep a receipt for all payment transactions and if possible, connect over email so that everything is documented.
  • Get quotes from multiple sources. Getting quotes from multiple mechanics is the only way to ensure the best possible estimate. The price can be a major factor in determining whether to file a claim.
  • Make it legally binding. This is to protect both drivers in case new developments come to light or someone changes their mind. If either party is a minor, their legal guardian must sign on their behalf.

When Should I Settle Without Insurance?

Here are scenarios in which it may be advantageous to settle the accident without involving the insurance company:

  • When the accident is minor. If the damage is minor and no one has sustained a personal injury, it may not be necessary to file a claim. It is important to go see a doctor just in case of any internal injuries or any pain that could have been covered up by a mixture of adrenaline and endorphins.
  • If the cost of repair is less than the deductible. A check of the insurance policy will inform the driver of the deductible.
  • If someone is at fault. Premium rates increase with every incident in which culpability is found. If drivers have previously filed at-fault claims and it starts to add up, they could end up losing insurance altogether.
  • If it occurred on the driver’s property, only their vehicle was involved, and no one was injured. If no outside person’s property was damaged and a single vehicle is involved, the repair bills may be relatively minor and it may not be necessary to inform the insurance company.

What Should I Keep in Mind When Settling Privately?

These tips should be kept in mind when settling without insurance:

  • Always file a report, even if no claim is filed. Insurance companies are going to want accident reports immediately. If a settlement is reached without insurance and no report has been submitted, going through insurance will no longer be possible even if negotiations have failed. Reporting an incident, no matter how minor, can keep drivers from being trapped in tedious and expensive lawsuits.
  • Come to an agreement. If one person reaches out to their insurance company and the other does not, it could make things significantly more difficult for the person who did not contact their insurance company, because it could look like they have something to hide. Some companies keep records nonetheless, and that could potentially affect premium rates later if a claim is not filed.
  • Undetected damages. The accident could appear minor at first, but after inspection, mechanics may discover serious damage that is missed by the untrained eye. Settling before notifying insurance can leave drivers with huge debts because insurance companies will deny claims without initial reports.
  • Delayed injuries. Some injuries can take up to weeks to show up, and if the insurance company is not aware of what transpired at the time of the incident, the drivers are financially liable for any medical bills.

When Should I Avoid Trying to Arrange a Private Settlement?

Drivers need to know that there are situations in which a private settlement should be avoided.

  • If there are trust issues. If either party feels uncomfortable in any way, settling privately could leave them in a very vulnerable position. Anything can happen, people can back out or do more damage to their vehicles, and it will be one person’s word against the other.
  • If there are red flags. Some examples include if someone claims they want to repair their vehicle on their own without contacting a repair shop, if one party ignores the other, if someone is trying to rush things with a cash settlement, and if one party is pressuring or strong-arming the other into a decision.
  • If the damage is major. If one or both cars are totaled or someone gets injured, involving insurance is not only more appropriate, but is also the law in some states.

Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Treat Clients Like Family


If you or someone you love has been in a car accident, the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King will do whatever it takes to ensure your comfort and security. Our legal team works to determine liability in car accidents and helps victims get the compensation they deserve. We are committed to serving our client’s individual needs and helping to find solutions to each case. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we work with car accident victims in Prince George’s