After being involved in an accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, confused, or scared. Because of this, and because people may be inclined to apologize as a natural reaction to unforeseen incidents, many motorists say “sorry” to the other driver involved in their wreck. Unfortunately, saying something as simple as “sorry” could have big consequences when it comes to one’s ability to secure compensation for their damages through a personal injury claim.
At the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg, our Orange County car accident attorneys are passionate about providing the comprehensive support and representation injured victims need to protect their rights and futures following preventable accidents. After car crashes, we ensure our clients are fully educated about their rights, how the process works, and what they can do to help strengthen the merits of their case. While we ultimately want clients to focus on recovering from their injuries and rebuilding their lives, we do want them to have the information they need to make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Among these mistakes are saying the wrong things following a wreck – including “sorry.”
Saying “sorry” may be a nice gesture, but it simply should not be said after a car accident. Apologies can potentially implicate you in a crash and harm your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
Here are a few important things to note when it comes to apologizing after an accident:
- Admission of Fault – Saying “sorry” can be viewed as an admission of fault for causing an accident. When you say “sorry” to another driver, or tell a law enforcement officer taking a police report, you create a record of a verifiable apology. Insurance companies, which do all they can to pay victims as little as possible, may latch on to this apology and leverage it as evidence that you are admitting to fault, even if you truly were not to blame for the accident.
- Evidence of Culpability – An apology can also be used by insurance providers to skirt liability away from their policyholders and place some of that responsibility onto you. While saying sorry may not be enough to say that you are entirely to blame, it may be enough to assign you with some percentage of fault, especially if you further state why you are apologizing – “sorry, I didn’t see you as I was pulling out,” or “sorry, I didn’t see the light had changed.” These types of statements can help insurers in their argument that you contributed to the cause of a crash, which can reduce the compensation you will be eligible to recover from the other driver who “shared” responsibility for causing a wreck, even if you did not.
- You Don’t Know All the Facts – Aside from potentially complicating your personal injury case, the truth is that you do not have all of the facts surrounding your accident to know whether you actually caused or contributed to a crash at all. Even if you feel you might have done something to contribute to a crash, it might come to light that the other driver committed serious infractions or even crimes that led to the preventable crash. Following a wreck, it is best to keep this in mind, and to let law enforcement, insurance adjustors, and experienced personal injury lawyers conduct the necessary investigations to determine who can be held at fault.
- Focus on the Important Things – After a wreck, apologizing is not something that should take precedence over more important issues. First and foremost, your top concern should be ensuring that you or anyone else involved in the accident receive medical attention if needed. You should also call law enforcement, not only for medical assistance if it is required, but also to have an officer fill out a police report. If you are able to do so, you should also collect as much information as you can from the other parties involved and any available witnesses. You can also take pictures of the scene.
- Talking to the Insurance Company – Remember, insurance companies are in business to protect their bottom line. If an insurance adjustor reaches out to you following an accident, remember that you do not have to speak with them if you have legal representation who can do so on your behalf. If you do speak, be sure not to say “sorry” or be lured into apologizing or making statements that could be used against you. Insurance companies are slick and will do anything possible to pay you less. They put profits over people.
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