Most definitely there are things to say and things not to say after an auto accident. Yes, you could be shaken, confused or even overwhelmed. But you should always think before you say or do anything as this could have a great impact on your case, even if you are not at fault.
If you have a pending legal case, whether a criminal or an auto accident case, it’s best not to talk about it with anyone other than your attorney. Why? Because the person that you spoke to could be called in as a witness on the case and forced to testify–possibly against you.
Why risk that? A better practice is to say that you cannot talk about your case at this time and leave it there.
What Should You Not Say After an Auto Accident?
- “I Accept”
After a car accident where you were not at fault, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you with a settlement offer. Don’t accept the first offer. Usually, this settlement represents the absolute minimum that your claim is worth. The insurance company wants to settle the claim as quickly as possible, but that course of action isn’t always in your best interest.
Do not accept the first claim immediately. You may have medical expenses that will come up over the course of your recovery or other unforeseen expenses. Consult with a lawyer to determine a fair settlement.
- “I Think That . . .”
After an accident, you will be asked to give multiple statements. Remember, the only insurance company you need to cooperate with is your own insurance carrier. You may be interviewed by the police, your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, and your attorney. In all these cases, you should do your best to stick to the facts and not guess.
Avoid speculating or approximating your answers. False information or exaggerations (or the opposite of downplaying) may damage your claim or make your account of the events seem inaccurate. If you are unsure about the answer to a question, say, “I don’t know,” and leave your response at that.
- “I’m Not Hurt”
Insurance settlements after car accidents are almost entirely based on the injuries sustained in the accident. However, many injuries that are common in collisions don’t show up immediately. For example, whiplash, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and other “invisible” injuries could appear days or even weeks after the incident.
Do not minimize your injuries with your words. Seek medical attention as soon as symptoms or injury appear. Additionally, avoid discussing your injuries on social media platforms since your online account may conflict with your medical records.
- “I’m Not Working With a Lawyer”
Even if you decide not to work with an attorney, you shouldn’t advertise that fact. If you don’t have a lawyer, say that you’re considering your representation options. Because most attorneys offer a free consultation before they take your case, you will likely want to visit with an attorney to ensure that you aren’t agreeing to an unfair settlement.
- “I’m Sorry”
In your daily life, you may use little apologies to diffuse tense situations, even when the tension isn’t your fault. However, you should always resist the urge to apologize after a car accident.
Apologies are almost always construed as admissions of fault, which can affect your claim and your settlement amount.
- “That Was My Fault”
In addition to avoiding apologies, you should also steer clear of any explicit admission of fault. Often, the parties involved in an accident do not have a complete image of the incident. You may be falsely admitting fault without even knowing it. You also should avoid admissions of fault because these statements can result in a traffic ticket and affect your claim.
Admissions of fault include saying things like, “I didn’t see you” or “you came out of nowhere.” Do not admit that you looked away from the road, ignored road signs, or did anything else that could imply that you were at-fault in the accident.
- “This Is My Official Statement”
As mentioned in section two, you will be asked a lot of questions after a car accident. Driver and witness reports are the primary records taken after an accident, and they can be important to the claims process. However, your official statement is different than your on-the-scene account.
If you live in the Tampa Bay area and need an injury attorney, call Tampa injury lawyer Martin Hernandez at 813.755.9500 or visit us online. Our one-on-one case reviews are free and 100% confidential.