“Anything you say can and will be used against you in court.”
While the Miranda rights are only read upon arrests, this sentence warning you to watch what you say is applicable in personal injury cases as well.
Determining who receives compensation in a car accident case depends heavily upon figuring out who was at fault, and words were spoken by both parties involved in the incident play a significant role in establishing blame later on in court. That is why it is important to avoid saying these five things if you get into a car accident:
1. “I’m sorry.”
When a car wreck occurs, many people’s first response is to apologize, even if the accident is not their fault. What they generally mean is that they are sorry that the accident happened and that people may have been hurt. However, a simple “I’m sorry” can be used against you as an admission of guilt later in court.
Even if you think that the accident may have been your fault, resist the temptation to say “I’m sorry.” These two words can mean the difference between a long, drawn-out case and a big insurance check.
2. “It’s okay, I’m not hurt.”
No matter how you feel immediately following the accident, never say that you are not hurt. Many internal injuries or whiplash wounds are almost impossible to notice right away, and only the experienced eye of a doctor will be able to determine the extent of your injuries. Also, adrenalin and shock from getting in a wreck may mask pain sensations until later when the shock subsides.
By saying that you are not hurt at the scene of the accident, any injury claims that you later make in court may be discredited since you expressed that you were okay originally.
3. “I think…”
Uncertainty is your worst enemy in a car accident case, particularly when speaking to an insurance adjustor. You only want to state the facts of the wreck and leave out any speculation.
For instance, don’t guess at what speed you were driving or give an opinion about what led to the accident. Stick to the facts, and let the police report fill in what you aren’t sure about.
4. “Sure, I’ll give a recorded statement.”
The insurance adjustor may try to get you to submit to a recorded statement discussing the details of the accident. Do not fall for this trick. Adjustors will often take statements and distort them or present them out of context in order to paint the plaintiff in an untrue light, which may reduce your injury claim.
5. “Yes, I will accept that offer.”
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is agreeing to an offer from an adjustor before consulting an attorney. Insurance companies notoriously low-ball accident victims by tricking them into accepting fast money now, as opposed to engaging in a long-term legal battle for just compensation.
Even if a settlement offer from an adjustor seems adequate at first, never accept it before seeking legal counsel from a car accident lawyer. Many accident injuries require extensive, long-term care and treatment, and what the insurance company offers is insufficient to pay for future medical expenses.
Avoid saying these five things and you won’t have to worry about hurting your case.