How Can You Unknowingly Admit Fault in a Car Accident?
Motor vehicle accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Before you even fully realize what is going on, the entire ordeal might already be over. However, everything can change in that short period of time. Your vehicle might be seriously or even irreparably damaged, and you might have suffered debilitating injuries that limit your daily life and leave you with hefty medical bills.
Since collisions sometimes happen so quickly, the exact sequence of events or who was at fault is not always apparent. Unfortunately, it is human nature to try to fill in the blanks, and you might immediately wonder, “Was I at fault?” after a car accident.
Even if you feel concerned that you may have played a role, you should never say that you caused the crash, especially while still at the scene when all the facts of the situation have yet to come to light. However, it is possible that you could unknowingly admit fault in a car accident. Here is some useful information to avoid doing so:
How To Avoid Accidentally Admitting Fault
Admitting fault in a car accident does not strictly mean saying the words, “I was at fault” or “I caused the accident.” Instead, a wide range of words and behaviors can be interpreted as admitting fault—and the insurance company knows this. If you unknowingly admit fault without meaning to do so, the insurance company could use it against you.
At Shrager & Sachs, we know how important it is to not give the insurance company any additional ammunition they could use to deny your claim.
Most people were raised to be polite in most situations. If your first instinct after a car accident is to say, “I’m sorry” to the other driver, you should be aware of the potential implications of doing so. Even if you are simply expressing regret that an accident occurred and not admitting liability in any way, the other driver, police, and insurance companies could purposely misconstrue your words.
Instead of jumping to apologize or to say, “I’m sorry,” try one of these phrases instead:
- Are you OK?
- Do I need to call an ambulance?
- Are any passengers injured?
- I’ll call the police.
- Let’s exchange insurance information.
Avoid Statements of Fault
It is not enough to simply avoid saying “I’m sorry.” You should also avoid making any type of hurried comments about the nature of the accident or what actions might have led to it. Remember, a car accident can happen quickly. The short period of time in which a collision occurred combined with any stress you are feeling immediately after can cloud your perception of what happened.
Don’t say things like, “I didn’t see you there!” or “I didn’t notice there was a stop sign!” This can be perceived as you feeling guilty about the accident and admitting fault. There could be many different factors at play, so you should wait until all the facts of your accident become clear.
When talking with police officers at the scene of the accident, do your best to stick to the most basic facts. Instead of making comments like, “I’m not sure if the light was red or green when I went through the intersection,” use neutral language like, “I drove through the intersection.” This will minimize your risk of unknowingly admitting fault for a car accident.
Don’t Share More Than Necessary
You should always notify your insurance company after a car accident. In some situations (including hit-and-run accidents and collisions with uninsured or underinsured drivers) your own insurance company might be responsible for covering the cost of your injuries and vehicle damages. Whether you’re talking with your own auto insurer or the other driver’s insurance company, always stick to the basic details.
Do not offer more information than you are asked for. If the insurance agent you are speaking with does not speak after you answer a question, do not fill in the silence for them. This may feel uncomfortable, but it is a common tactic used by insurance companies to get accident victims to offer up more information than is strictly necessary. If they need more information, they will reach out to you at a later date.
Keep Your Accident Off Social Media
Sharing a quick picture, video, or status update might be second nature for you. That does not mean you should share pictures or details of your accident on any social media platform. Information shared in this way can potentially be used to discredit your original version of events or what you told your insurance company.
Even profiles that are private and only grant access to your friends or certain people are not as secure as you might think. When the compensation you need for your injuries is on the line, it is best to play it safe.
When Car Accident Liability Is Disputed
Even if you do everything right after a car accident, liability could still be up for debate. At Shrager & Sachs, we know how local Philadelphia insurance companies operate. Their primary goal is to preserve their bottom lines and boost profits, not to fairly compensate car accident victims for their injuries and damages.
By the time you realize this, you might already be dealing with growing medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that won’t go away despite your best recovery efforts. We know that you deserve better than this, and we have the knowledge and experience that it takes to secure the compensation you need. Our firm also works to make sure that our clients never have to deal with the insurance company on their own.
Having someone on your side shows the insurance company that you mean business. You can learn more about your options for filing a car accident claim when you schedule your free consultation.