After an Auto Accident: Why You Should Avoid Saying "Sorry"
Auto accidents are unexpected experiences, and they can be tremendously frightening to all those involved, especially if you have suffered injuries. Despite the chaos that can accompany a wreck, remembering the right steps to take can help make the difference in any personal injury case you may choose to pursue in order to recover your damages from the at-fault party. That’s because the things you say and do can have an impact on your case, and your ability to secure the compensation you need and deserve.
In a previous blog, our Chicago car accident lawyers at Leonard Law Group discussed some important Do’s and Dont’s after an accident. This included helpful information to avoid things that can compromise your right to full and fair compensation, such as trusting that the other driver’s insurance company is on your side and accepting their first settlement offer. In addition to being wary of insurer’s first settlement offers – which are typically lowball settlements that provide less than your claim is worth – you also need to be careful of any discussions involving fault. This includes saying “sorry” or apologizing in any way.
While apologies are often a natural reaction to unexpected confrontation in our personal lives, they can be dangerous when made after a car accident. Here are a few reasons why:
- Admitting to fault – Even if you did not cause or contribute to your accident, saying “sorry” can be interpreted as an admission of fault. That’s because it can reshape how other drivers in the wreck viewed what happened, and lead them to believe you were the one at fault, even if the facts indicate otherwise. They can then share this information, as well as your apology, in discussions with law enforcement officers who arrive on scene to compile an accident report, or with conversations they have with their insurance providers or lawyers.
- Insurance companies can use it against you – Insurance companies who represent at-fault drivers in car accidents are simply not on your side. They are corporations with financial interests in paying you as little as possible. As such, they like to capitalize on the things you do and say, and can use any apologies you make against you when defending against your personal injury case. By forgoing apologies and sticking to calling police, medical services if needed, and gathering information from involved parties, you give the insurance company less ammunition to dispute, deny, or underpay your claim.
- You don’t have all the facts – One of the most important reasons to avoid saying “sorry” after an accident is that you don’t know with any certainty what caused it. Even if you feel your actions may have caused or contributed in some way, there may be circumstances involved that show the wreck was clearly the fault of another – such as another driver who was text messaging at the time or driving while under the influence. Because of this, it is best to avoid apologies and discussions of fault at the scene, and to leave it to investigators and your attorney to determine what truly caused the wreck.
Ultimately, an apology can complicate your fight for full and fair compensation because it creates the possibility for other parties and insurance companies to take your statement out of context and use them to argue that you caused or contributed to a wreck in some way. This may cause them to offer you less than you deserve, deny your claim entirely, or otherwise make it more difficult to refute their defense strategies and recover the damages you are rightfully entitled to under the law.
Even if you apologized or discussed fault after your accident, you still have the opportunity to build a strong and effective personal injury case. By working with proven lawyers like those at Leonard Law Group, you can gain the support of advocates who focus on the facts and draw from extensive experience when conducting investigations, preserving evidence, and crafting arguments that prove another party’s negligence is to blame. Because time is of the essence in taking the necessary steps toward proving fault and liability, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.