In a Car Accident? Do Not Say This
You have probably read articles on what to do if you are involved in a car accident: pull over to a safe place if possible; check to see if anyone needs medical attention; get witness statements; take photographs; and so forth. What you do not read very often is what NOT to say after a car accident.
Do Not Say “I’m Sorry”
It is a normal human tendency to jump out of your car and say, “I’m sorry.” You may mean, “I’m sorry we are all going to be delayed here,” or “I’m sorry that we are all going to be late to work.” Any mention of the words, “I’m sorry,” may later be interpreted as you apologizing for causing the accident. Practice not saying these words!
Never Say “It was My Fault”
Even if you sincerely believe the accident was your fault, there may be extenuating circumstances you are not aware of at the time. For example, you may think you were just unable to stop in time, but that may have been due to the fact that the business across the street left the water hose on all night and that water turned to ice over-night, causing you to slide on black ice.
Why is this an issue? Under Georgia law, if you are deemed to be 50 percent at fault for an accident, you will not be able to collect for any damages. However, if you are up to 49 percent at fault, your damages will be apportioned according to your degree of fault. Wait on an experienced attorney to investigate your case based on the facts, not your statements.
Do Not Say, “I’m fine” or “I’ll be ok”
Adrenaline is rushing after a car accident. According to an emergency room physician, those who may have been hurt “just don’t feel the pain for a few hours.” Sometimes, the pain of one injury may take the focus away from another injury. This emergency doctor gave an example of two men who walked away from a subway accident claiming they were not hurt, only to discover later they both had fractured their spines.
Never Talk to an Insurance Adjuster Without Counsel
Remember that the insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. They do not work for the injured person. The adjusters’ goal is to save their employer money – that means giving as little money as possible to the injured person. Your words will be twisted and used against you to show you admitted fault or that you were not injured.
Depending on the terms of your own insurance policy, you may be required to give a statement to the adjuster for your own insurance company. But, you should never do so without your personal injury attorney present.
Do Not Offer Your Opinion to an Investigating Police Officer
When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene, they will of course ask you what happened. Be succinct with your answers and offer only the facts, not your opinion. If an officer asks you a question to which you are unsure of the answer, respond, “I don’t know.” Do not say, “I think it could have been…” Your opinion can later be misconstrued as a fact you were providing. And that opinion may turn out to be wrong later in the claims or litigation process.
Say Nothing on Social Media
No matter what your privacy settings are, anything posted on social media is fair game and may come back to haunt you later. As tempting as it might be to post a status update giving your opinion of what happened, it can be misconstrued. You might even inadvertently admit fault when you think you are only describing what happened.
If your claim is still pending, it is better to not post anything on social media until your claim is resolved. A photo of you smiling with friends as you prepare for a mountain hike can be used to minimize your claim of being injured. Your truthful explanation that you stayed at the base camp while the others hiked may be discounted by an adjuster or the jury.
Do Not Say, “I’ll Take it” to the First Settlement Offer
Insurance companies are aware that you may be accumulating medical bills at the same time you are losing wages due to your injuries. They may sense you are desperate for funds. This inspires them to make an initial low-ball offer. In almost all situations, the first offer is never the “top offer.” Resist the urge to take the quick money, as you do not yet realize the extent of your injuries, medical costs, future medical costs, lost wages and future lost wages.
If you were in a car accident, before you speak to anyone, especially an insurance company, contact Georgia Trial Attorneys for a free consultation.