Three Things You Should Never Say After a Car Accident
A car accident can turn your world upside down—sometimes literally. When you’re shaken up and unsure about what to do, you can make some mistakes that come back to haunt you. It is particularly important to pay attention to what you say because some very innocent statements can work against you and impact your ability to recover after the collision.
It is best to say as little as possible in the aftermath of an accident until you have had a chance to get advice from an experienced attorney. In particular, there are three things you absolutely do not want to say after an accident, and here’s why.
Never Say “I’m Sorry”
As a matter of politeness, many of us instinctively say, “I’m sorry” whenever something unpleasant happens. We don’t necessarily say it to indicate that we are sorry for causing the problem. We simply express empathy with others who are experiencing a situation they’d rather avoid. Often when we say, “I’m sorry,” what we mean is, “I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
But those two simple words can be taken very differently. They can be viewed as an admission of fault. And if a witness reports that you admitted fault for an accident, that can cause tremendous problems for you.
In Georgia, the person who is found to have the majority of fault for an accident becomes legally obligated to compensate others affected by the accident. You want fault to be established by other evidence of what happened, not by your polite words of commiseration. So bite back the words that naturally spring to mind and don’t say you’re sorry for anything. If you want to be polite, you can ask if others need help and call for emergency assistance. In fact, you should take these steps even if you don’t want to be polite.
Never Say “I’m Okay”
Another polite response to avoid after an accident is “I’m okay.” We often want to reassure others we are fine even when we are not. There are two very important reasons why you should not insist that you are okay.
To begin with, you have no way of knowing whether or not you are okay. You need a thorough medical exam because the adrenaline of an accident can mask a wide variety of symptoms. Moreover, many injuries–including serious brain injuries and injuries to internal organs—do not have any noticeable symptoms until much later. A doctor experienced in examining trauma victims may be able to detect injuries that you did not notice.
But even after an exam, signs of your injuries may not become apparent until hours or days afterward. You need to take care of your health by getting a medical examination, following instructions from the doctors, and paying attention to what your body is telling you. If you experience new symptoms such as pain, confusion, or problems with balance or coordination, go back to the doctor and make sure they understand that your body has endured a recent trauma.
You might also experience severe mental effects from an accident that could impact you for years, but you have no way of knowing the long-term effects right after the accident. Never say “I’m okay” after an accident because chances are that you are not, and you need to take steps to care for yourself.
A second important reason not to say “I’m okay” is that it impacts your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Whether you mean it that way or not, telling people that you are fine is like admitting that you are not hurt.
In fact, you could end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills, you could miss substantial time from work, and you may be plagued by pain and other effects for years to come. You could be entitled to tens of thousands in compensation from the person responsible for causing the accident and your injuries. However, if you said you were “okay” the attorneys representing that person and their insurance company are likely to argue that your injuries and pain were not the result of the accident but are due to something that happened after the accident.
Saying you were “okay” can be taken as evidence that you were not hurt. So avoid saying you are okay, fine, or anything else about your condition. Ask for assistance and get a thorough medical exam.
Never Say “I Think…”
Human beings are curious by nature, and we like to figure out why things happen. You might have theories about what led to the accident and caused your injuries. However, you need to remember that those are opinions, and you should be dealing only with facts.
Avoid giving your opinion about anything if possible. In particular, you want to avoid speculating about the cause of the accident or anything that happened before or during the accident. Stick to facts, whether you are talking to the police, the other driver, or an insurance company.
It is wise to get legal advice before talking to the insurance companies, particularly the insurance company representing the other driver. They may act friendly and concerned, but they are looking for evidence to give themselves grounds to pay for anything. Anything you say that could indicate that their driver was not at fault will be seized on and used against you.
Let Michael M. Day Speak for You After an Accident
Don’t give insurance companies an opportunity to trick you. The experienced team at Michael M. Day Law can advise you about what to say and do to protect your rights after an accident. We can speak to insurance companies on your behalf and work to help you recover the full compensation you deserve for your suffering, inconvenience, life disruption, and all the bills left by the accident. A dedicated attorney can protect you right from the start and begin collecting evidence to demonstrate the fault of the others involved in the accident. To get started with a free case evaluation, contact our team now.