Should you consider saying sorry after a car accident? The short – and emphatic – answer is… No. Do not, under any circumstances, apologize or otherwise admit fault. Why? We break it down for you here.
Saying Sorry After a Car Accident: Why It’s Not a Good Move
It’s human nature: we are involved in an accident, and we see people who may be hurt. At the very least, their vehicles are in rough shape. It’s natural to blurt out, “Oh no, I’m sorry! Are you ok?” We may not mean “I’m sorry” as an admission of fault or wrongdoing – but rest assured, insurance companies or the other party’s lawyer will twist it that way.
But what if you think you may be at fault or even at partial fault? This may be the case but you do not know this for a fact, and you cannot be sure at the scene of the accident or in the immediate aftermath. Your body is pumping with adrenaline. You’re scared. You’re anxious. You’re worried. You may be injured. Certainly, you are shaken.
Think of it like this: you wouldn’t make an important decision at this moment, right? You wouldn’t quit your job, buy a house, or say “yes” to a marriage proposal while all of this is going on. So why would you make a decision that can have long-lasting financial and legal implications in the heat of the moment? You may not be aware of all of the factors that contributed to the accident; apologizing, even out of good manners or sympathy, though, can come back to haunt you and make building a case for a personal injury lawsuit difficult.
What Should I Say Instead?
Again, it is human nature to be concerned about the welfare of your passengers and anyone else involved in the accident. And it is ok to check on them as it relates to any injuries. If, for example, you approach the other vehicle, you can ask, “Is anyone injured?” If so, call 911 immediately.
You are also required to report the accident to the Florida Highway Patrol or relevant law enforcement agency if there are damages of $500 or more (a very low threshold given that even something minor, like a cracked bumper, can easily exceed this).
What do you say when you speak with the responding officer? The truth. Tell them the facts as you experienced them. Do not guess, speculate, embellish, or exaggerate. Just tell them what happened. If you don’t know an answer to a question, that is the best answer: “I don’t know.”
If you admit fault here, it is incredibly difficult to file a claim later. An investigation may uncover facts of which you were not aware (e.g., the other driver failed to yield or their blood alcohol level was elevated). But if you have in any way acknowledged responsibility already, getting compensated fairly is an uphill climb.
What Do I Say to the Insurance Company?
Ideally, you say nothing to any insurance company until after you have consulted with a car accident or personal injury attorney. Your insurer likely requires you to notify them of your accident within 72 hours (some require immediate notice). If you do not have time to seek legal counsel, you can offer this initial notification to your company.
Do not speak to or agree to give a formal statement to the other driver’s insurance company until you have legal guidance. This is of the utmost importance. They can, and likely will, twist your words and use them against you. For example, if you say you checked for vehicles in the other lane, they may claim you weren’t paying attention to the road.
If you are asked to provide a recorded statement, inform the insurance adjuster that you will do so after you consult your Florida lawyer. An experienced legal representative can help you prepare for any statements and avoid these common traps.
Why Does All of This Matter?
What you say and do now can have very long-lasting consequences. You do not want to say sorry after an accident because, first, it may well not be your fault at all, and second, it can impact your ability to receive appropriate compensation. The best course of action is to call 911, seek medical attention, and limit any other interactions to the bare minimum until you have received legal counsel from an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.
If you have been involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact Clayton Trial Lawyers. We have extensive experience in this area of the law, and we will help guide you through the next steps. Don’t risk your chances of recouping the compensation you are owed; saying sorry after a car accident may be an automatic reaction because you are a kind person. But it can be held against you. We do not want this to happen. Call us at 833-938-2300 before you talk to anyone else.