Car wrecks can be frightening and unnerving. After an auto accident, your adrenaline is flowing, and you may be tempted to talk to others involved in the accident. It’s best not to talk to anyone until the police arrive, but if you do, be careful what you say.
On Sunday the Wall Street Journal published an article about Melissa Cruz, who collided with a pickup truck coming to a screeching halt at a busy intersection. Behind the wheel, Cruz did everything right. But she made a big mistake after the accident: she apologized to the driver of the truck.
Automatically saying “I’m sorry” (even when not at fault) is a bad habit for some people. You should resist the temptation to apologize at the scene of an accident (even if you think that you were at fault). Your words at the scene of an accident can mean the difference between a big insurance check and a long, drawn-out legal battle.
“I thought apologizing was the right thing to do no matter whose fault it was,” said Cruz. “It turned against me, though.”
Even though the police report stated that the truck driver was speeding, Cruz’s apology to the other driver slowed down the entire insurance claims process.
Because of Cruz’s apology, the other drive instigated a “blame game” which appeared in the police report. As a result, it took four months for Cruz to get a $1,100 check from her insurance company.
Amy Danise of insure.com points out that saying “I’m sorry” after an accident can be viewed as an admission of fault. Stick to the facts and say as little as possible. If you’re not sure about the facts, don’t say anything! Let the authorities and insurance agents sort through the facts.
“The last thing you want to do is backtrack to explain what happened,” said Danise. “A few words can make a big difference.”
Other tips for playing it smart after a car wreck:
Call 911 to report the accident as soon as possible. Let the 911 operator know of any injuries or possible injuries.
Do not move your vehicle unless the police or another authority asks you to do so.
When you talk to the police, tell the truth and stick to the facts. Try to remain calm and avoid getting emotional.
Make sure to exchange insurance information with the other driver, or make sure that the police will give the other driver’s information to you. If you have the opportunity, check to the coverage date on the other driver’s insurance.
Collect contact information from any witnesses before they have the opportunity to leave.
Get contact information for the responding officer.
Take photos of the scene. If you don’t have a cell phone camera or digital camera on you, buy a disposable camera if possible. It would be a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your vehicle just in case you need it.
Don’t forget to call your insurance company to file an accident report.
If you are injured, seek medical assistance immediately. Make sure that your doctor documents any injuries.
In the case of serious injuries, you should talk to a lawyer about your legal rights. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that the law firm can collect relevant evidence. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney, call MLN law at 404-531-9700.