The noise, confusion, and sudden burst of adrenaline can be very disorienting when you have just gotten into an automobile accident. Checking yourself and other passengers for injuries, seeing the damage done to your car, and seeing the damage done to another vehicle or person.
You’ve got to speak to the other driver. What do you say? He or she is obviously going to be just as shaken up as you are. We have all been raised to be polite and admit to our mistakes. This is something our mothers always told us, right? To family members, yes! But, on the street to another motorist in an accident? Do not ever, ever, say you are sorry for a car accident.
Why You Should Never Say You Are Sorry After a Car Accident
I repeat, do not say you are sorry after a car accident. Saying sorry is a civil nicety that is almost reflexive for most people. However, in the context of an automobile accident, especially one causing property damage or personal injury, saying you are sorry can be used as an admission of fault.
Sorry Can Be an Admission of Fault
This admission of fault can be used by your insurance company to deny coverage, and/or it can be used by the other driver’s insurance to show that you, in fact, admitted to causing the accident and are not entitled to anything. If this accident goes to court, your statement could be admitted into evidence.
It may sound like hearsay, but it is not. It is an out of court statement, but the declarant (you) is in court and can be cross-examined. This is not the best way to spend your day in court. Let a Law Firm Remove your Negative Items from your Credit Report!
Don’t Be Rude, But Protect Yourself
Do you have to be rude? Not at all. You can ask if everyone is alright, arrange for medical aid if anyone needs it, and collect as much information as best you can. You can ask for their insurance information and try to write down as much contemporaneous information about the crash as you can.
You should including date, time, traffic and weather conditions, a sketch of the accident site, and any other things you think may be relevant. The imperative is to stay calm and be very careful regarding what you say. Do not say anything that could be misinterpreted or twisted to show that you take the position that the accident was your fault.
Use Your Cell Phone
Use your phone. Call loved ones and let them know you are okay. Call your car insurance company. You should call if necessary (injuries have occurred, or if the damage is substantial, and/or the vehicles cannot be moved) the police. Use your camera on your phone to take pictures. You need to take photos of your surroundings, the cars, their positions, traffic, and the weather.
Remember, if there is no clear person at fault, most jurisdictions in the US look at auto accident claims/cases and make a determination based on evidence of comparative negligence (who is more and fault and assigning fault percentage-wise).
Everything said at the scene of the accident could be examined by the car insurance company or in court. And, any statements made may be used to that effect. Be polite, but don’t apologize. If you have been in an accident and believe that you have been injured, please speak to an attorney in your area.
What about you? Do you think it’s wise to say that you are sorry after a car accident?
Note: The foregoing information presented should not be construed as specific legal advice. It is for informational purposes only, and you should address any specific questions towards an attorney in your area.