Less Is More: Securing Your Car Accident Claim by Keeping Your Mouth Shut
Depending on the circumstances of a collision, you may be required to not only deal with the other driver, but you may also have to give a report to an officer, speak to the insurance company, and negotiate for vehicle repair and medical treatments. No matter the circumstances of your accident, though, what you say during those crucial moments following the collision is just as important to your future as what you do.
Protecting Your Accident Claim by Not Saying Too Much
The thing to remember after an accident is to use good judgment and common sense. Although you want to cooperate with the police in order to accurately explain what happened, you don’t want to say or do anything that could provide the insurance company (yours or the other driver’s) with any ground to allege that you’re in some way responsible for the accident.
After a motor vehicle accident, avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster if possible, but at all costs do not give a recorded statement to any insurance company. Such a statement may be distorted or misinterpreted and will only be used as evidence against you. Insurance companies profit by charging hefty premiums and then paying out as little as possible when policyholders file a claim, no matter how legitimate the claim is. If you can be made to shoulder the blame, the damages you receive will be significantly reduced (if you’re awarded any at all). This is why it is just as important to know what not to say, as it is to know what to do.
But there are other things you should not say in the aftermath of a car collision. Here are some of the top things to avoid:
- Don’t apologize. Saying you’re sorry to the other driver may indicate that you’re taking responsibility for the accident and his insurance company may interpret the apology as an indication of fault.
- Don’t refuse medical treatment. In addition to making sure you have no internal or severe injuries, being assessed by a doctor will also provide you with legitimate documentation that insurance companies can’t refute.
- Don’t forego police involvement. Failure to notify the authorities of an accident may get you into trouble (could be construed as a hit-and-run). Furthermore, it will certainly decrease your chances of getting a fair settlement from the insurance companies if there is no police report or unbiased description of what happened.
- Don’t talk about the details of your accident on social media. Everything you say could potentially be used against you by the insurance company. A simple joke, picture, or statement could be taken out of context and used to discredit or lessen your claim.
- Don’t give a detailed report to the insurance company without first speaking to an experienced attorney. Insurance companies will use everything they can to nickel and dime your settlement claim—including using how and what you say when describing the accident to assign blame. Make sure your statement is rock-solid by talking to an accident attorney first.
How to Best Avoid Making Mistakes at the Accident Scene
You don’t have to become mute to get through the post-accident procedures, but you do have to be mindful of how and what you say. Your words can easily be misinterpreted by others—namely, the driver and passengers from the other car and the officer drafting an accident report—and cause you a great amount of difficulty if you decide to pursue an injury claim.
The best course of action is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to address your concerns and to lay out plans for your claim options.
Unfortunately, few of us have time or resources to scan a list of attorneys and pick one from the scene of the accident. So, protect yourself in the future by putting an experienced personal injury lawyer’s contact number in your phone right now. The name is Steve Lee and the number is 713-921-4171. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this information…but if you do, you’ll be prepared.