Car accidents always come as a surprise. One minute you are driving not anticipating a collision and the next you are standing at a crash scene trying to put the pieces together and, if you are lucky, getting information from the other driver.
It is normal to be confused and overwhelmed and as a result many people inadvertently say things that undermine their rights.
The old wartime adage that “loose lips sink ships” applies here. Be very careful.
“It Was My Fault”
Do not accept or admit fault at the scene of an accident. In the chaos and commotion of a crash, you are not in the best position to determine who was at fault for the collision. Leave that to the police, the insurance companies, and your car accident lawyer.
Your responsibility is to stop your vehicle, render aid, exchange information, and report the accident to law enforcement. If you admit fault before a proper investigation is conducted, it may be more difficult to access the full financial compensation you deserve.
Beyond avoiding a direct admission of fault, you should also avoid apologizing for the accident. Many people have the impulse to say “I’m sorry” after a car accident, even if they know that the crash was not their fault. They are more or less apologizing for the unfortunate circumstances, not their individual actions. While a light apology is often simply a way to relieve tension, it should be avoided after a car accident. Any apology will be taken as evidence of fault. You do not want to be blamed for a crash that you did not cause, in which the other party was either fully or substantially at fault.
As you exit your vehicle, you may want to help alleviate the other driver’s feelings and concerns by confirming that you were not injured in the crash. While this is understandable, it is best to avoid saying as little as possible about your physical condition. An initial statement that you were “not hurt” or are “OK” will be used by an insurance company when negotiating with your lawyer and coupled with a pre-existing condition or a previous injury ten years ago gives your opponent an argument to limit your recovery.
Do not downplay your feeling that you are fine. Most likely you are experiencing a rush of adrenaline which masks the pain of the trauma you have experience. You may be far more severely injured than you initially recognize.
Delayed onset of the pain caused severely stretched muscles and ligaments is common. The day after the crash you’ll be feeling the aftermath. If you don’t see a doctor the day of the crash, make it a point to do so the next morning when you are hurting.
Be Careful: Your Words Will be Taken Out of Context
Anything you say will be taken out of context and used against you in the personal injury claims process. By saying as little as possible and sticking strictly to the facts, you will put yourself in the best position to maximize your financial recovery.
The bottom line: Let your personal injury lawyer talk for you.
Get Help From a Car Accident Attorney in San Jose, CA
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.