What to Say to the Other Driver After a Car Accident
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Alan J. Robertson with Sloan Firm.
Immediately after a car accident, it’s tempting to discuss the situation with the other driver or drivers involved. However, this is not recommended. Even if you are certain that you were not even partially at fault and have nothing to hide, anything you say at the scene could be used against you to reduce or deny your claim, or even to hurt your case in court.
At the scene of a car accident, it’s important to err on the side of caution and say as little as possible; even something simple as a blanket apology could be taken as an admission of fault at the scene. After the accident, it’s a good idea to let an attorney do the talking with any insurance companies involved. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident where one or more people were injured, reach out to a car accident attorney to discuss your options for protection and recovery.
Things to say the other driver after a car accident:
- You may request their name and insurance information.
- You may ask if they are okay.
- You may ask if you need to call someone.
The list of what should be reasonably safe to say to the other driver after an accident is quite limited. Even if the other driver has good intentions, that does not mean their insurance carrier feels the same, and anything you say at the scene could be repeated to them. If litigation becomes an issue, what you say at the scene becomes even more important, and is likely to be parsed until some indication of fault can be impressed upon a jury, even if there is none.
Anything you say at the scene of the accident could later hurt your case, so it’s important to exercise caution.
While this philosophy may seem cynical, it’s important to remember that there are more parties involved than just you and the other driver. In any car accident, there may be two drivers, passengers of the vehicle, families of the driver and passengers, as well as insurance adjusters and even lawyers working to influence the situation to each driver’s best interest. It’s important to refrain from admitting fault, apologizing, or offering any kind of official statement about the accident before speaking to a lawyer. In fact, it’s best not to discuss the accident at all with anyone inside or outside the event before talking to a car accident attorney about your options.
Even drivers who were partially fault for an accident may be eligible for recovery.
Even if you are certain you were at fault for the accident, it’s important to refrain from admitting so on the scene. In many cases a driver who believes they are fully at fault for an accident later learns that the other driver was also committing a traffic violation at the time of the incident; for example, maybe you were speeding, but the other driver was texting at the time of the accident. In this situation, you would both be considered partially at fault, but that evidence may not come to light until litigation is pursued.
Even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you still may be able to make a recovery. Some states practice comparative negligence, where a person may still be compensated for their damages after a car accident they were partially at fault for in an amount reduced by the percentage of fault a jury determines them to have. In Texas, courts typically practice a modified version of comparative negligence or “proportionate responsibility”, in which an at-fault party may only receive compensation if they are determined to be less than 50% at fault for the accident.
You are not legally obligated to speak to the other driver’s insurance company.
It’s important to remember that when you receive a call from the other driver’s insurance provider, you are not required to speak to them. In fact, car accident attorneys across the board do not recommend speaking to any insurance company on your own, especially the other driver’s insurance company. An insurance adjuster may convince you to say something that could impact your eligibility for recovery, even if it is not strictly true. An insurance company’s job is to accept customer premiums and hold on to as much of that as possible in the interest of profit; in some cases, this may result in insurance adjusters reducing or denying even valid claims. It’s safest to assume that any insurance adjuster is not on your side, but on their company’s side after an accident.
To learn more about what is safe to say after an accident, or to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery, talk to a car accident attorney sooner rather than later.