After a car accident, it is only natural that you may be shaken up and unsure of what to do or say. Unfortunately, some statements can hurt your chances of recovering financially for your accident-related losses. Many different parties can use unintentional statements against you and claim they were admissions of fault in order to limit their liability in your claim. For this reason, the following are some brief guidelines for you to follow to avoid admitting fault in the wake of a car accident.
At the scene of the accident
Directly after a collision, it is easy to become emotional and say things without thinking. You may feel badly if you believe you somehow contributed to the accident and may feel the need to apologize for the collision. However, even if you were somewhat at fault for the accident, you always want to avoid saying anything that can be interpreted as you taking responsibility for the incident. For example, you should avoid statements like the following:
- “I'm so sorry, I didn't see you coming.”
- “I only looked away for a second.”
- “I was just on the phone.”
- “I knew I should have had my tires checked.”
All of these can be interpreted as admissions that you caused the entire accident and it will only make explaining the true version of events more challenging at a later time.
In addition to avoiding admissions of fault, you also do not want to make irresponsible statements out of anger or spite at the scene of the accident. If, out of raw emotion, you insult the other driver or threaten to sue them, you automatically put them on the defensive. More often than not, this leads to their efforts to defend against any claims and instead try to prove the fault was yours. It is always best to remain calm and respectful whenever possible.
Speaking with your insurance claims adjuster
It is also extremely important to avoid any admission of fault in your initial communications with the insurance claims adjuster handling your claim. The adjuster may seem like they merely want to have a casual conversation and that they are there to help you. However, in reality, their job is to limit the liability of their employer. You should, therefore, never be too friendly with them, editorialize regarding what happened in the accident, or even give a recorded statement at all. While you should not ever be dishonest, you can politely decline to answer their questions until you have discussed your situation with a car accident attorney. An attorney can then help you manage your communications with the adjuster without unnecessarily admitting fault.
If you have been in a car accident and would like guidance on how to proceed, please call the Michigan Injury Lawyers at 313-438-4357 for help.