The moments after a motor vehicle collision can get frantic, overwhelming, and frustrating as you try to assess the damage, speak with others at the scene, and do your best to determine what has happened. In this fog of confusion and emotion, it can be easy to say something that could hurt your case later.
In fact, the things you say – not just immediately after a collision but throughout the claims process – can have a big impact on your potential settlement. Being prepared beforehand will help you control the process from the start, so that nothing comes between you and your legal fight to recover compensatory damages. Of course, the first step is to partner with an auto injury attorney in Southwest Virginia who can look out for your best interests.
Even if you think you may have had something to do with the collision, never apologize to the other party, bystanders or anyone else at the scene. Things can get pretty emotional, so it’s easy for things like that to slip out. Refrain from acknowledging guilt or taking blame in any way. Apologies can be taken as admissions of guilt by insurance companies and lawyers, so while it’s human nature to be apologetic when a collision occurs, remember: it won’t help your case in any way.
Don’t Say You’re Unhurt
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to overlook injuries you may be experiencing. Never say that you’re fine or decline a hospital visit. While some injuries are evident immediately, it’s not uncommon for some injuries to show up hours or days later in the form of bruising or whip lash. You don’t know how an injury will play out later, so accept medical attention to be safe. If you say you’re fine now, then an injury shows up the next day and you try to claim it, the insurance company may say you are lying.
The words “I think” should not be uttered. After a collision, police, both insurance companies and your lawyer will all ask you to give a statement. This is not the time to waffle; always stick to facts. Saying “I think…” implies speculation and shows that you don’t really know what happened. This can damage your claim later on. If you are unsure of something, stick with “I don’t know,” and speak with your car accident lawyer in Roanoke VA about it later.
Don’t Get Angry
Some people get weepy and apologetic at the scene of the collision, while others lash out in anger, blaming others for the event. Those outbursts will only hurt your case, so take a moment to calm down and focus on getting help for those who need it. It can be just as damaging to your future case to accuse and blame as it can be to outright admit liability.
Do not foster an adversarial relationship with the other party, as it could result in dire legal consequences.
Don’t Volunteer Unnecessary Information
Some people shut down when under stress. Others get conversational. If you fall into the latter category, try your best to keep to yourself and refrain from volunteering extraneous information. Beyond providing your basic contact information, you shouldn’t be saying anything to anyone except your car accident attorney in Roanoke VA.
For example, do not tell people at the scene that:
- You were just coming back from a party.
- You were rushing around to get to school or work.
- You were chatting on your phone.
In short, don’t provide others with any information they can use later to damage your case.
Don’t Say “I Accept”
After the collision has occurred and you are going back and forth with the insurance companies, you will likely get an initial offer and be asked to accept it. That first offer is rarely sufficient; in fact, it’s the insurance adjuster’s job to get you to sign it quickly to save the company money.
This first offer is the bare minimum that your claim is worth. Always consult with your Roanoke auto accident attorney first before accepting anything.
Contact Altizer Law
Bettina C. Altizer and her team at Altizer Law can provide more information on what not to say after a collision, in an effort to protect your best interests. Get a free, no-obligation consultation when you contact us at 540-345-2000.