If you feel at your age you have no need to worry about what to say after a car accident, think again.
According to Forbes, the average person is in a car collision once every 18 years. That means if you become a licensed driver at age 16 and live to be 80, you may be in a total of four car crashes.
Car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death throughout the world. In the United States, 38,800 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2019. Drivers between age 16-19 have a high risk of being in car accidents, but senior citizens over age 65 were in accidents resulting in 240,000 injuries that year.
A slip of the tongue following a car accident can result in others thinking you are admitting fault. Here is what to say and not say after a collision.
Don’t Say This!
What you do and don’t say immediately following a car accident may have an impact on whether or not your car insurance increases. Say the wrong thing and you may be found at fault. Keep a cool head and avoid saying the following:
Saying “I’m Sorry” is second nature to some people, even when they have done nothing wrong. Do not say those words after an auto accident.
Even if you think you are the one at fault, there may be facts you are unaware of that mean you are not liable. This can include things like the other driver ran a stop sign or they were distracted by their children fighting in the backseat.
A simple statement in the heat of the moment may be seen as an admission of guilt. That admission can result in insurance companies negotiating for a lower settlement under contributory negligence.
I’m Not Hurt
Following an accident, you may visibly appear and feel fine, but internal injuries may become evident later. Whiplash is a good example of this. You look and feel okay at the accident, and then hours later you can barely turn your head and are in pain.
You can say you do not require emergency medical treatment at the accident scene, but never say you do not have any injuries.
Don’t Agree to Settle
The other driver may want to avoid calling the police and pressure you to accept payment on the spot for your vehicle damage. There are several reasons not to do this.
- Your collision shop may notify the police or your insurance company of a potential unreported accident.
- You do not know if there is expensive hidden damage to your vehicle.
- You can not recoup additional costs later.
- They may be unlicensed, uninsured, or have drugs or alcohol in their system.
If an insurance company calls, do not accept any offers until you consult with a car accident attorney. Insurance companies are out to make money, not pay claims, and they may offer you a low settlement.
I Think That
When talking to the police and insurance companies, do not speculate on what happened. Give only facts you are certain of. If you are not sure about something, state that you do not know to avoid being accused of changing your story later.
I Don’t Have a Lawyer
Do not tell insurance companies you are handling your own case. If you have an attorney, give them their name and phone number.
If you do not have one retained, state you are seeking legal assistance. It is advisable you consult with an experienced car accident attorney following an accident resulting in injuries.
It Was My Fault
By admitting fault, you risk the police finding you at fault and issuing moving violations against you. Do not say anything that indicates you were not alert while driving.
This includes saying things like “I didn’t see you” or “you appeared out of nowhere.” Even mentioning adjusting your radio or putting your beverage back into the drink holder can indicate distraction and fault.
You Can Say This
You don’t want to say more than necessary. It is okay to make generalized statements that take into consideration the situation.
Are You Okay?
This shows concern for the other driver and passengers. Being calm and considerate after an accident helps keep things cordial during a stressful situation.
Do not tell anyone you are okay or do not have injuries. If they ask, say you do not require emergency medical treatment.
This is a good way to get the other driver to give their view of the incident. If the other driver immediately assumes fault, you can report that to the police when they take your statement.
Do not make any hostile or rude statements to the other driver. You do want to quietly make a note of their statements in your private records.
If the other driver asks you questions, answer politely without assuming fault. For instance, if they say “why did you stop?” and you respond with a legitimate answer such as “a child ran into the street”, you have proven yourself to be a responsible driver.
If the other driver disagrees with your answer, do not engage in an argument. You can respond by letting them know you are reporting the incident as you saw it.
When Talking to the Police
The police on the scene will decide who to speak with first. When the officer is talking with the other driver or witnesses, do not interrupt, contradict, or otherwise interfere.
When it is your turn give an honest explanation of the accident, stay calm and avoid using an angry, accusing tone, even if the other driver was at fault.
Write down the accident as you remember it for your own records. Those notes will be helpful when speaking with insurance companies and your attorney.
Police Reports in Proving Fault
The accident report the police prepare will include driver and witness statements plus additional evidence. The information they record helps determine fault and includes the following:
- Skid marks
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Position of the vehicles at the collision point
- Damage to vehicles
The information found in the police report is evidence your accident attorney will use in negotiations and court. Read the report carefully and let your attorney know about any discrepancies.
After a Car Accident
Do not hesitate in contacting an attorney after a car accident. The personal injury attorneys at Sweet Law Group have a 98% success rate with vehicle accident injury cases.
Contact us online or call (800) 674-7854 for a free confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win. Call us today for your 100% free no-obligation consultation.