There is no doubt that you are a kind, polite individual who is always thinking about the wellbeing of others. As such a person, you probably have the natural instinct to say you are sorry when something goes wrong, even when you know you are not to blame for what happened. This level of courtesy is admirable in most situations, but it can be absolute folly after an accident.
Saying “Sorry” Makes You Sound Guilty
Why would you want to bite your tongue to not say you are sorry or give another form of apology after an accident, like a car accident? A little bit of kindheartedness cannot actually be that much of a problem, right? Wrong.
Despite being just one word, “sorry” can do so much damage to your subsequent personal injury claim without you even realizing it at first. When you say you are sorry for the accident, it sounds to other parties like you are admitting that you contributed to its cause, or even acted as the sole reason for it. Admitting guilt means increasing your liability for the accident, possibly straight to 100% liability. The higher your liability, the less you can recover in a settlement or verdict. In some cases, if your own liability is determined to be 51% or greater, you might not even have the ability to file a claim against other parties at all.
Insurance Companies Look for Ways to Pay Less
You might understandably be thinking, “Who would think my apology would be my admittance of guilt?” It is a fair question to ask but you have to remember that the parties most concerned with liability in your accident are the insurance companies that stand to give coverage payouts. Insurers are businesses, first and foremost, and all businesses need to turn a profit to keep the doors open and the lights on.
By taking your “sorry” or apology and misconstruing it into an admission of guilt, an insurance company gains a probable chance of raising your liability and reducing how much it has to payout. This is simply too good of an opportunity for the insurer to pass up. Try not to take it personally, but you should take it seriously. After an accident, remind yourself again and again not to apologize to anyone. You never know what gets recorded and passed along to insurance groups for analysis.
What Should I Say After an Accident?
If insurance companies are listening and looking for ways to raise your liability, what can you say afterwards? Staying totally silent after an accident is suspicious at the least and concerning at the most, as people might think you have suffered a serious head injury and can no longer communicate. Instead, you should not give any direct statements to any other party that could indicate your liability. You are also not obligated to talk to an insurance company until you are ready, especially not an insurer representing another party in your accident. In case someone tries to press a statement from you, it might be the right time to say something like, “Before I give any official statements, I need to speak with my personal injury attorney.”
Other things you can say after an accident that should not raise your liability include:
- “Right now, I am not comfortable with talking about what happened.”
- “I would rather wait to learn more before I comment.”
- “My attorney has advised I speak with them in person before talking to anyone else.”
- “I cannot discuss this event now due to the uncertainties at hand.”
Do not forget to collect insurance and identifying information from the other parties, though. You also need to give your contact information after an auto accident as well, or you could be accused of committing a hit-and-run, which also makes you look liable. During information exchanges, you can expect other parties to try to get your opinion on what happened and who caused it. If you are not feeling confident, then you should utilize one of the aforementioned statements.
Anchorage Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Southern Alaska
The Law Offices of David Henderson is the go-to name in personal injury representation in Anchorage and the surrounding region. With more than 15 years of legal experience under my belt, I have the ability to see your case from all angles, pinpoint liability, and instill confidence in my clients. From the moment I take your case to the last, my top priorities are your satisfaction and the maximization of the compensation I collect on your behalf.