Being confused and stressed after a car accident is entirely normal. However, it’s important to stay calm and watch your mouth because everything you say can and will be used against you. The power of your words may cost you many things such as penalties, but also a lower settlement or no settlement at all.
Even though it’s recommendable to call a lawyer after the crash, some people aren’t able to do this. Still, your New York car accident attorney will advise you to be alerted about what you say. Here are several things you should never say to law enforcement or the insurers.
Let’s say the accident happened because of another party. The other driver’s insurance company may call you and offer you a settlement offer. This offer may sound excellent to you at the moment, but you shouldn’t accept it.
Accepting it would mean that you will not be able to seek a claim in case your medical bills get higher. Your injuries and damages may seem little at the moment, but with time things may change.
It’s better to consult with an attorney before you say anything to the insurance company.
“I Believe That . . .”
The police will interview you after the accident. Be careful what you say since you may end up liable for the crash. Even if you believe that somehow you contributed to the crash, stay quiet. This goes for the insurance company as well. If they notice that you aren’t sure about your liability, and you say something “I believe I might be at fault too” you risk ending up without any claim at all. On top of it, you may even end paying a fine or getting your license suspended.
It’s not smart to speculate anything. The police will investigate the crash and if there are surveillance cameras, the footage will show how exactly it happened. If you get a question about how it happened, say “I don’t know” and don’t add any other words.
“I Have No Injuries”
You may feel well after the crash and there might not be any visible injuries. But, don’t rush to claim that you’re perfectly well. You should get a medical examination even if you’re entirely all right.
Some injuries may appear a few days later. In case you suffered whiplash or traumatic brain injury, the symptoms may appear a few days or even a few weeks after the accident.
In case you’re injured but the injury is minor, don’t minimize the injuries by saying “I’m ok/well” or “It’s not that bad”.
Make sure to stay off social media where you discuss your car accident and injuries. Everything you post online stays there forever even if you delete it after a while.
All of this can affect your claim and the insurers may avoid paying you anything since you said that “you felt ok”. They will argue that the injury appeared in another accident, instead of the one that was caused by their insured client.
“I Don’t Work With an Attorney”
You can go without a lawyer in the case, but don’t say that out loud. The insurance company will use this fact against you and will use their “tricks” to offer you a car accident settlement that won’t cost them too much. Their first offer might be low because they know you have no legal advice to refuse it.
In case you don’t have a car accident attorney, say that you’re considering several representation options. Most lawyers will offer a free consultation before they take your case so make sure to use this option.
Apologizing or Stating that It was Your Fault
A car accident is not the best place and time to apologize. Even if it comes naturally to say that, don’t. Apologizing means that you admit it was your fault.
Also, don’t say that it was your fault out loud. Saying that is a dangerous thing. You may end up facing charges, fines, and no settlement at all. You can’t be sure if it was your fault or not, so let the investigation show that.
Phrases like “I didn’t see you” or “You appeared out of nowhere” are also indicating that you were negligent and didn’t pay attention to the road.
It’s a good idea to consult an attorney after an accident. But if you can’t call them at the moment, be sure to remember these things.
Our team at Cellino Law offers you a free case evaluation.