What to Say (and What NOT to Say) After a Car Accident
The aftermath of a car accident is a tense situation for all involved, and it is no surprise that people often do not know what to say. It is worth noting that what you should not say is just as important as what you should say.
What You Should Say
“Is Everyone Alright?”
The first priority after an accident should be health and safety. So, if you are in an auto accident, your first step should be to check and ensure that everyone is safe and nobody is injured. Inquire of the passengers in your car first, then check with the other driver if necessary.
“Can I Have Your Insurance Information?”
It is important to exchange insurance information at the scene so that both parties can begin processing insurance claims and proceeding with the case. You should also get contact information from the other driver and passengers.
“Did Anyone Witness the Accident?”
Witnesses to an accident can help make your case stronger, which in turn can make it more likely that you receive the compensation you deserve. If there are witnesses to the accident, be sure to acquire their names and contact information so that anyone who needs to speak with them later will be able to reach them.
What You Should Not Say
Admitting fault is the number one thing to avoid after a car accident. Although it is almost instinct to apologize, even if what happened was not your fault, doing so can support the other party’s claim that you caused the accident, behaved negligently or recklessly, or did something else to contribute to the accident.
“In My Opinion…”
Your opinion matters very little to law enforcement or to insurance companies, but it can get you in a lot of trouble. Avoid giving your opinion on what happened and stick to the facts. If you do not know something, responding, “I don’t know” is ok. Resist the urge to speculate or guess about what happened and what went wrong in the accident.
“I’m Not Hurt.”
Some injuries, like whiplash, take a little while to manifest and appear. While it is easy to spot a broken bone or a bloody mess, injuries to the head and neck, to muscles, and to nerves can appear days, weeks, or even months later. Seek medical attention to protect yourself from later claims that your injuries were caused by something else.
“I’m Going to ****!!!”
Using threatening or incendiary language at the scene of the accident is almost certain to hurt your case. Police and other law enforcement personnel may be less inclined to take you seriously, and depending on the severity of your language and threats, you may incur additional criminal or civil penalties.
If you have been injured or have suffered property damage as a result of an automobile accident, you are not alone. Many thousands of people are injured in auto accidents each year. Look for an attorney experienced in car accident cases to determine whether or not you may have a viable claim for damages.