Picture this; you’ve just been in a car accident, scores of people have gathered around the scene, eager to know what happened. Before you even say anything concerning the crash to anyone at the scene, you need to realize that what comes out of your mouth can have far-reaching consequences. In fact, any unintentional statement that you make on the site of the collision can be used against you and even taken as an admission of liability. That said, how should you conduct yourself after a crash? A car accident attorney shares some valuable tidbits.
At The Accident Scene
Most likely, you are bound to panic right after a collision, and there is a probability of saying things without putting much thought into it. It normal to get emotional for the damage caused to the other motorist’s car to but never get to a point of apologizing more so when you feel that you were at fault for the accident. As a matter of fact, never use conciliatory words, fault or no fault, lest the other motorist uses them against you later on. According to many personal injury lawyers, some of the statements that you should avoid include:
• I regret that I didn’t see you coming
• I only had my eyes off the road for a split second
• I wish I hadn’t answered that call
• It’s been a while since I checked my tires, I knew they would mess me pretty soon
Statements such as the ones cited above, or anything similar can be interpreted to mean that you admitted to having caused the accident which by extension means that trying to argue anything to the contrary, later on, might prove quite challenging.
If you feel aggravated by the other party, avoid using anger driven statements. If for instance, out of sheer anger you insult or threaten to take legal action against the other driver, it goes without saying that he or she will try to defend himself or herself. Most likely, this will trigger a back and forth exchange of words as each party tries to prove that they were not at fault for the accident. Try as much as you can to keep your cool and remain respectful to the other motorist no matter how ugly the situation seems to be.
Be Careful How You Speak to Your Claim Adjuster
On paper, you may tend to think that a claim adjuster is out to help you get compensated. In reality, however, the claim adjuster is out to help the insurer avoid liability. It might sound out of the ordinary, but most insurance companies will try to avoid paying claims, so they will use crooked ways to allege that you were to blame for the accident. One of the easiest tricks most insurers use is to make a claim adjuster get as much information as possible about the crash from you with the hope of luring you to admit liability. When talking to your adjuster, use casual language and don’t befriend him or her. Never issue a recorded statement and while you need to remain truthful, be sure to decline any request to discuss the series of events before and after the accident.
Remember that you’re not obliged to answer every question. If you have no reply to a question, simply say so or tell the adjuster that you can’t remember and can always get information at a later date. If you have to narrate anything to anybody about the crash, let it be your car accident attorney. Other mistakes to avoid when dealing with a claim adjuster include:
• Do not agree to sign any medical releases until your treatment is almost finished. That way, you will save your doctor the hassles of dealing with the claim adjuster.
• Never release your Social Security number to the adjuster. Doing so allows the adjuster to access a whole lot of your personal information. While it’s against the law, the adjuster can gain access to your credit history or any other information that can be used to deny you compensation.
To avoid making mistakes after you’re involved in a car crash, call an accident attorney immediately for guidance on how to proceed. If need be, the attorney can avail himself or herself at the scene of the crash and handle matters on your behalf. Remember, no matter what happens, do not admit liability; stay calm and let the due process unfold.