Learn why saying “sorry” after a car accident can be a mistake
The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be confusing, stressful, frightening, and disorientating. This is true even if the accident was not particularly serious, so just imagine how upset you may be if you or another person has been hurt.
Many of us are raised to say “sorry!” any time we think we’ve hurt or inconvenienced another person, regardless of whose fault the incident was. This little tic is probably one of the reasons people can coexist as well as we do in cities, where situations often require us to invade one another’s personal space.
While saying “sorry!” doesn’t do you any harm if it pops out after someone bumps into you while walking through the airport or after the flight attendant rams your elbow with the drink cart, an automatic apology can hurt if it happens after a car accident.
Because anyone overhearing you apologize could assume you are taking responsibility for causing the accident.
You may just mean “Sorry you are hurt or upset” or “I’m sorry this happened,” but if all you say is “sorry,” witnesses to the car accident won’t know what you mean. They may tell the police that you apologized after the accident, in which case your apology will make it into the police report. From there, the insurance company will almost certainly try to use it against you.
Remember, insurance companies are businesses and they need to protect their own bottom lines. This means they are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of compensation they have to pay out after accidents. If they can use your apology to direct liability away from their policyholder, they will. Of course, the evidence may tell a different story, showing that the policyholder made a mistake that caused the accident. But if the evidence is unclear, or if it is possible you also made a mistake that could have contributed to the accident, saying “sorry” could pave the way for you to be assigned at least partial liability for the accident.
If you are assigned any liability for the car accident, this will affect your ability to secure full and fair compensation for your injuries. If you are blamed for the whole accident, you won’t be able to recover any damages, and if you are assigned partial liability, you will only get a percentage of your damages.
So what should you do?
Avoid apologizing. Instead, ask the other motorists if they are hurt and help them get any necessary medical care. This way, you can demonstrate your concern for their well-being without saying anything that could be misconstrued as you accepting blame for the accident.
As soon as the EMTs and the police have been called, consider calling a car accident attorney such as The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker. We can help you preserve evidence from the scene of the accident and position you to make the strongest possible claim for full and fair compensation for your injuries and suffering. You can reach us at 800-333-0000.