10 Statements to Avoid Making After a Car Accident
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
The car accident statements you make following a car wreck are critical to the outcome of your claim. These incidents can be overwhelming, and the aftermath can leave you flustered, scared, or unsure of what happened or who was at fault. As a collision victim, you may feel unprepared for how to respond to police, first responders, or other involved parties.
It’s important to remain cautious about what you say after a crash, as your car accident statement can adversely impact your insurance claim or legal case. Knowing what statements to avoid and working with an auto accident attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can keep you from harming your chances of a fair settlement.
How Words Can Hurt Your Claim
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re involved in a car accident. While it’s necessary to communicate with the other party, law enforcement, and your insurance company, you must choose your words carefully to protect your rights.
The words you use in your car accident statement can reduce the compensation you receive or even result in a denial of your claim.
Your Words May Be Inaccurate
In the heat of the moment, you might make statements that aren’t entirely accurate. For instance, you may incorrectly describe the sequence of events or underestimate the severity of your injuries.
While it’s human nature to make mistakes, insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys will closely scrutinize your statement and may use any inconsistencies to challenge the claim’s legitimacy.
To minimize the risk of inaccuracies, stick to the facts and avoid speculating or making assumptions about the accident. If you’re unsure about specific details, it’s better to say that you don’t remember than to provide incorrect information.
Anything You Say Could Be Misunderstood
Even if you have the best intentions and are completely honest, your words can still be misunderstood or taken out of context. For example, apologizing for the accident might be interpreted as an admission of guilt, even if you believe the other party was responsible. Similarly, if you make a casual remark about feeling fine, it could be used to downplay the severity of your injuries, even if symptoms develop later.
Avoid discussing fault or injuries in detail with the other party or their insurance company to avoid these misunderstandings. Be careful not to say anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt or denial of injury, such as “I feel bad” or “I should have reacted sooner.” By keeping your car accident statement clear and concise, you can protect your interests and improve your chances of a fair resolution.
What Not to Say After an Accident
After a car accident, consciously consider what statements you make to other parties rather than saying the first thing that comes to mind after the collision. In general, there are several key elements to avoid saying after an accident to protect your interests:
Don’t Admit Fault
Even if you believe you might be partially responsible for the accident, it’s critical not to admit fault at the scene or in your car accident statement. Determining fault in a car accident is a complex process that considers multiple factors and evidence. By admitting fault, you could inadvertently jeopardize your claim, reduce your potential compensation, or even expose yourself to legal liability.
Instead, focus on exchanging contact and insurance information with the other party, and leave the determination of fault to the professionals, such as law enforcement officers, insurance adjusters, and your attorney.
Don’t Guess at the Cause of the Accident
Following a car accident, you may want to understand what happened and why. However, avoid making any guesses or assumptions about the cause of the accident. Speculating about factors like speed, distraction, or mechanical failure can lead to inaccurate statements that can be used against you later.
Stick to the facts that you know and witnessed firsthand. Leave the investigation of the accident’s cause to professionals, such as the police and accident reconstruction experts.
While it’s human nature to express sympathy or regret when someone is hurt or upset, don’t apologize after a car accident. Even a compassionate “I’m sorry” can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt and used against you in your claim or legal case.
Instead of apologizing, remain calm and composed, and focus on gathering the necessary information, such as documenting the scene with photographs and collecting witness statements or contact information. This approach will help you avoid jeopardizing your claim and allow for a fair assessment of the situation.
Don’t Threaten the Other Driver
Emotions often run high after a car accident, but it’s best to keep your cool and avoid threatening the other driver. Making threats or displaying aggressive behavior can escalate the situation and potentially lead to legal trouble.
It may also paint you in a negative light, which could allow insurers to claim you were driving aggressively and caused the crash. Instead, remain calm and let the proper authorities handle the situation.
Don’t Mention Your Injuries
It’s difficult to accurately assess the extent of your injuries immediately following the accident, and any statements you make can be used against you later. If you claim to be fine but later discover an injury, the insurance company might argue that your injury is unrelated to the accident.
Instead, seek medical attention as soon as possible and discuss your injuries with your own insurance company and a personal injury attorney if necessary.
Don’t Make an Official Statement
After a car accident, you may be asked to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. While you must cooperate with the insurance process, be cautious about giving an official account without consulting an attorney. Once you’ve given a statement, it can be difficult to change or retract it, and any inconsistencies or inaccuracies may be used against you in your claim.
Never speak with a third-party’s insurance company without talking to your personal injury attorney first. When you work with the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., we can handle all communication with the other party’s insurer so you don’t accidentally make statements that adversely impact your claim.
Specific Statements to Avoid
While it’s helpful to understand what general topics to avoid, there are specific statements that you should never make after a car accident. If you’re involved in a car crash, never make the following statements to police, the other driver, witnesses, or other third parties besides your attorney.
1. “I’m Sorry”
Apologizing can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. Even if you’re merely expressing sympathy, avoiding saying “I’m sorry” is best to prevent misunderstandings.
2. “It Was My Fault”
Never admit fault at the scene of an accident. Determining fault is a complex process that involves evaluating various factors and evidence. You may jeopardize your claim or expose yourself to legal liability by admitting fault.
3. “I Don’t Think We Need to Call the Police”
Regardless of the accident’s severity, you will need to call the police and have an official report filed. A police report can be valuable evidence when filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action. It’s also required in Michigan for accidents that result in injury, death, or $1,000 in property damage.
4. “I Didn’t See You”
While it may seem harmless, admitting that you didn’t see the other party can be used against you as evidence of negligence. While you may not have seen the car, it could have been due to the driver’s reckless behavior, such as swerving or speeding. Rather than investigate, the insurance company may twist what you said to prove you were not paying attention. Instead, focus on the facts and avoid making assumptions or speculating about what happened.
5. “I’m Not Injured” or “I’m Okay”
Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, some injuries may not be apparent until later. Avoid making statements about your injuries until a medical professional thoroughly evaluates you and provides a diagnosis and treatment plan.
For example, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and neck injuries like whiplash can take days, weeks, or even months to show full symptoms. You may suffer a TBI that doesn’t have immediate symptoms but begins to affect your mood, relationships, and ability to work several weeks after the accident.
If you stated that you were okay or didn’t have an injury, it might be challenging for you to seek damages for the full extent of your injury.
6. “I Don’t Have Insurance”
Admitting that you’re uninsured can lead to various legal and financial consequences. While you must be honest when speaking to police, consult an attorney before discussing your insurance status with the other party or their insurance company.
7. “I’ll Fix My Car Without Going Through Insurance”
If the damage to your car is relatively minor, you may feel like paying for damages out of pocket instead of going through the hassle of filing an insurance claim and paying a deductible. When you say you’ll fix your property damage, it can impact your claim.
It may indicate that you feel you were partially liable for the accident since you accept responsibility for the damages. This can limit your ability to collect compensation for the apparent damages and future problems that arise after the accident.
For example, a car crash can impact the electrical components of your vehicle or throw your tires out of alignment. This can result in costly repairs that you could have been compensated for had you filed a property damage claim.
8. “It Was All Their Fault”
Assigning blame immediately after a car crash can complicate the claims process and potentially harm your case. It’s best to let the authorities and insurance companies determine fault based on the available evidence. Avoid making definitive statements about fault until you consult your attorney.
9. “Don’t Worry About It”
Downplaying the accident or suggesting that there’s no need for further action can be detrimental to your claim. Treat every accident seriously, regardless of its severity, and follow the proper procedures for documenting and reporting the incident. These include contacting 911, providing information for the police report, exchanging insurance information with the other driver, and filing a claim with your PIP insurance.
10. “I’m Not Working with an Attorney”
After a car crash, you may or may not have an attorney to represent your interests. While you don’t have to have legal representation to file a PIP or third-party insurance claim, you may decide to hire an attorney to help you protect your interests during the process.
If you don’t have a lawyer right after the crash and the insurance company contacts you, avoid advertising that you are without representation. Politely decline an insurance adjuster’s request for a statement, and consider meeting with an auto accident attorney.
The experienced lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. offer a free consultation, so you can discuss your case and get an overview of your legal options. If you decide to work with us, we can take over communication with the insurance company, help you avoid making any potentially harmful statements, and negotiate on your behalf for the maximum settlement.
Speak With an Attorney Immediately After Your Accident
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be complex and challenging, especially when dealing with insurance companies and potential legal issues. To protect your interests and ensure a fair resolution, speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
A knowledgeable attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can guide you through the process, advise you on what to say and avoid, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Our lawyers can also represent you in negotiations with insurance companies or in court, if necessary, to secure the compensation you deserve.
Don’t leave your car accident claim to chance. Reach out to the legal team at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., who have extensive experience handling car accident cases and are committed to fighting for your rights. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation, and let us help you navigate complex collision claims and help you avoid making a harmful car accident statement.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.