Right after a car accident, disorientation and a sense of overwhelming anxiety are common and can make it difficult to remember everything that happened. Car insurance companies and liable drivers will try to take advantage of your being in this state so that they can use misstatements against your case in the future. This type of tactic is often how such companies successfully minimize your injuries and losses to get away with paying out a smaller negotiated settlement or even denying an injury claim altogether.
This reality makes it critical to mind what you say at the accident scene and throughout the claims process. The best course of action is to speak with an attorney first and save your comments and statements for later. Below are the top things not to say after an accident when dealing with insurance companies and other liable parties.
Admitting Fault in Any Way
While this may seem obvious, insurance adjusters and representatives are especially talented at making accident victims admit some level of fault. Avoid any kind of apologizing or outright admitting any specific area of fault that implies that you are liable. California is a comparative fault state, and by admitting any fault, you may be found partially liable and have your award reduced.
Many times, insurers want to speak with you about the accident within a day of it happening, and this means that you won’t have a full picture of what happened yet. The police report is not yet complete, and some events may have wrongly convinced you of being at fault when you were not.
Phrases to avoid include:
- I’m sorry.
- They came out of nowhere.
- I didn’t see them coming.
- I had no time to stop.
Falsely admitting fault can devastate your personal injury claim compensation later and is often hard to retract once given.
Making Statements About Injuries
Just like getting initial crash information, insurance adjusters will ask you about injuries within the first day of the accident if they can. This practice is in hopes that you do not yet have any symptoms of injuries like whiplash, muscle strain, or a traumatic brain injury, and you will assume you are okay. These types of injuries can take days after the initial impact to show up, and if you immediately say you are not hurt severely, this can jeopardize your personal injury claim.
Avoid minimizing your injuries with your phrasing and do not wait to get evaluated after your accident. You should understand that making any statement about your injuries, including on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook, can give carriers ammunition to fight your claim despite having medical evidence.
Sharing Information You Are Not Sure About
After an accident, you will be overwhelmed with questions and asked for a statement of events repeatedly. From law enforcement on the scene to the insurance company, there will be several occasions where you will need to give an account of what occurred that led to your injuries. The insurance adjuster will likely attempt to get you to speculate on certain aspects of the collision that you are not fully sure about and may act doubtful if you do not have an answer.
Don’t let this manipulative tactic work. It is perfectly acceptable to say, “I don’t know.” Sharing information you are not sure about can potentially hurt your claim later, especially if you learn about other circumstances in your accident that counter what you initially thought.
Don’t Say You Are Not Working with an Attorney
Whether you ultimately decide to work with a California car accident attorney or not, you do not need to go out of your way to discuss this decision with the insurance company or use it as a threat for leverage. If asked directly for attorney contact information, provide it. If you have not retained counsel yet, let them know that you are currently considering your options for representation. You have every right to take your time and find the right lawyer for your case, and many legal professionals offer free evaluations to assess your case and get to know you better.
When in doubt about whether or not you should say something about your accident, consult with a Beverly Hills personal injury lawyer first.
Start Your Personal Injury Claim with a Highly Skilled California Attorney
Surviving the traumatic experience of a car accident in California can leave you shaken and overwhelmed for quite some time afterward. You may feel pressured to cooperate with whatever the insurance company demands of you, even answering questions or making statements before you know the full outcome of your damages and injuries. This is a manipulative tactic that adjusters use to minimize the payout their company owes you. State law allows you to pursue fair and just compensation for the damages and losses you suffer because of another party’s negligence, and you should not lose this opportunity.
The best approach after an accident is to avoid making any statements or interacting with the insurance company until you speak with a qualified car accident attorney. At Setareh Law, our team provides unmatched legal representation for plaintiffs across California. We will evaluate the facts of your case, discuss what avenues for compensation are available to you, and serve as your counsel throughout the personal injury claims process. As recognized SuperLawyers, we provide high-quality support to represent your best interests every step of the way. To schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, complete our contact form or call (310) 659-1826.