After an auto accident, you’ll have to speak to the other driver, the police officer dispatched to the scene, and a representative from your insurance company when you report the accident. But you also may speak to witnesses, paramedics, a doctor, an adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company, a lawyer, and more.
Every conversation you have about your accident can potentially be used against you if you decide to file a compensation claim or sue the other driver. That’s why it’s extremely important to stick to the facts of what happened and avoid speculating. Sadly, many otherwise valid claims have been reduced and even denied because of verbal mix-ups in the minutes, hours, and days after crashes.
To protect your rights to compensation, here are things you should say after a crash—and things you should NEVER say.
Never let another driver talk you into not calling 911 after a crash. Even if the damage looks minor, it may later be revealed that the damage to one or both vehicles was significant. In addition, injuries aren’t always obvious, and some take hours or days to show up or be more expensive to treat than the injury victim initially assumes.
If you leave the scene of a crash without calling 911 or waiting for police to arrive, you not only may lose your chance to get compensation, but you also may be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Stay at the scene until a police officer arrives and speaks to you and the other driver.
It’s human nature to be concerned for the well-being of other people, especially when they’re involved in an auto accident with you. And many people assume that they must have done something wrong when another vehicle collides with theirs. But saying “sorry” or claiming fault immediately after a crash can be extremely harmful to your claim.
To many insurance adjusters and even juries, the word “sorry” is an admission of guilt. If you’re recorded on a dashcam or by the responding police officer saying “sorry” after a crash, it can and likely will be used against you if you pursue compensation.
And if you suspect that you may have caused the crash, claiming fault—even if it’s later proven you didn’t cause the crash—can end your chances of getting a settlement due to Alabama’s contributory negligence law.
Never let the other driver leave the scene without getting their name, phone number, driver’s license number, and auto insurance information. If you suspect that they may leave the scene without giving you this information or before police arrive, take a picture of them, their vehicle, and their license plate number before they leave.
You should also ask for contact information from witnesses and even the responding police officer, including their name, badge number, and the agency they represent, which could be the local police force, sheriff’s office, or state highway patrol. Having this information on hand can help you track down the accident report if you decide to file a claim.
Auto accidents can be frightening and stressful. It’s common for victims to experience huge surges of adrenaline and even go into shock. These reactions can mask the pain and immobility of certain injuries in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident. Because of this, it’s common for victims to tell other drivers, police officers, emergency responders, insurance adjusters, and even their own doctors that they’re okay.
First impressions count, and if the people writing up the crash report, diagnosing your injuries, or recording your crash for insurance purposes believe you aren’t injured, it can be difficult to “correct the record” later on and convince them otherwise. Always assume that you’re injured after a crash and avoid saying you aren’t—and always see a doctor, even if you think you’re okay! Some injuries that seem minor and like they might heal on their own over time end up needing surgery to treat, and you don’t want to be left on the hook for those expenses when your injury wasn’t your fault.
The fact that your own adrenaline and shock-fueled words can potentially jeopardize your chances of getting much-needed and much-deserved compensation later, regardless of how the crash happened, isn’t fair. But it is reality. And unfortunately, that risk continues long after you’ve left the crash scene and are dealing with both your and the other driver’s insurance company.
When you call The Vance Law Firm, you get a legal advocate that not only will help you build your injury claim, but will also handle all communication on your behalf. That means you’ll never have to worry about saying the wrong thing and hurting your claim. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on getting better while we handle the back-and-forth.