If you were injured in a car accident, the other parties and their insurance companies may try to minimize their financial liability by claiming that you are at fault. They may try to elicit a statement or admission that places the blame on you, or even ask you to sign a settlement.
While speaking with an attorney could help you avoid saying things that could hurt your claim, sometimes making a statement is unavoidable. If this is the case, keep the information factual and to the point, without speculating or implying fault.
What Not to Say After an Accident
Here’s how you can avoid hurting your claim.
Don’t Admit Fault
The aftermath of a car accident can be disorienting. It is not uncommon for victims to unwittingly claim fault without realizing it.
Even reactionary statements like “I didn’t see him” or “the roads are bad” can provide leverage for the other party to claim that you are responsible for the accident. Avoid any comments that imply fault, in order to protect your claim for injuries and losses.
Don’t Guess at the Cause of the Accident
Avoid guessing at what might have caused the accident, especially to other parties or their insurance companies. Such statements can be misconstrued by the opposing party as an admission of fault.
Rather than speculating, state simple facts without implying that you are responsible.
Many people are conditioned to apologize for things that are not their fault, especially in distressing circumstances. What you may consider a kind gesture can be seen as an admission of fault and used to paint you as the guilty party.
In order to protect yourself, it is best to avoid saying “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” to anyone at the accident scene.
Don’t Say You Feel OK
To ease the tension after an accident, you may be tempted to say that you feel fine, or that everything is OK. Avoid this impulse, as the other party and their insurance company can use these statements to claim that you were not injured.
Adrenaline from the accident can mask your injuries, and you may not notice them for days or even weeks. If you indicate that you are OK at the accident scene, you may not be able to claim compensation for injuries you suffered in the accident and medical bills that you incurred as a result.
Don’t Make an Official Statement
Police, insurance companies, witnesses, and the other people involved in the accident will ask questions while you’re still on the scene. The authorities will want to write a report, and the opposing party will be trying to cement their own claim.
The best thing you can do is say as little as possible, keep to the facts, and advise whoever is asking that you will make an official statement once you have contacted your attorney.
Don’t Accept a Settlement Offer
Many insurance companies will try to convince you to accept a settlement at the accident scene. Such offers are typically lower than the amount you can claim, and the insurance company is most likely trying to minimize their financial liability by offering you a quick settlement.
If you accept an offer, you cannot seek any additional damages for the accident. As such, you should not accept any settlement, even verbally, until you speak with your personal injury lawyer.
Contact An Attorney As Soon As Possible
Per N.Y. CVP § 214, you have a limited amount of time in which to file a lawsuit if you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company. In addition, the State of New York places much shorter time limits on accident reports and certain insurance claims. It is therefore in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Although many cases are settled out of court, your attorney needs enough time to file your case within the legal statute of limitations if negotiations with the insurance company fail. When building your case, your attorney will need time to:
- Compile photographic evidence and documentation
- Obtain witness statements
- Determine a monetary value for your claim
- Obtain expert testimony
- File your insurance claim
- Negotiate a settlement
- File for court proceedings if negotiations fail
Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP for Your Accident Claim
At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, we understand the difficulties you may be facing after your accident, from medical bills to loss of income.
We will work with you to find solutions to both immediate and long-term challenges. Call us today at 516-358-6900 for a free consultation. Our dedicated team of injury lawyers will work with you to obtain the compensation you deserve.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900