It’s easy to get rattled if you’ve been involved in an accident. However, it’s important not to let your nerves get the best of you. The last thing you want to do is admit fault. This is true even if you think it’s obvious that you’re responsible for causing the car accident. Here’s why.
Insurance Companies Will Be Quick to Deny Your Claim
Insurance companies aren’t on your side. When you get into an accident, insurers will go to great lengths to find a reason to deny a claim for benefits. If, while speaking with an adjuster or insurance company representative, you indicate that the accident was your fault, you better believe that they’ll use that to their advantage. When you submit a claim, they’ll use your words against you, claim that you’re at fault, and deny you the compensation you need.
Insurance companies will reach out to you with questions after an accident. What should you do? It’s okay to answer simple questions. You can provide your name and other basic information. However, decline to answer any questions about:
- What caused the accident
- What you were doing at the time of the accident, or
- Who you think is responsible.
Insurers are great at manipulation. You can prevent them from manipulating you by keeping conversations short and directing them to your attorney for additional information.
Accidents Are Complicated and Should Be Investigated
Accidents are rarely straightforward. Many different factors can contribute to a collision, wreck, or crash. You might believe that you’re solely responsible for causing your accident. However, in truth, you might only be partly to blame.
Maybe the brakes on your car were defective, which prevented you from stopping before you rear-ended the car in front of you.
Maybe the other driver involved in your accident was, unbeknownst to you, under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Maybe you missed a stop sign because it was obstructed by trees that the city neglected to trim back.
If you admit fault, there may not be an investigation into your accident. As a result, these factors could go undetected. You’d assume responsibility—and perhaps financial accountability—for an accident that wasn’t entirely (or even partly) your fault. As a result, you might be barred from recovering compensation and even possibly on the hook for damages suffered by other crash victims. All because you made a seemingly-innocent statement after your collision.
Let your attorney conduct a thorough independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding your accident. A skilled attorney will have strong relationships with accident and injury experts who can shed a lot of light on your case. For example, your lawyer could enlist the help of an accident recreationist. This expert can, based on the evidence available, identify what caused your accident to happen. This can help your attorney identify liable parties and shift blame away from you.
You Could Jeopardize Your Ability to Recover Compensation
Admitting fault immediately after an accident can have different consequences, depending on which state the crash was in. This is because different states handle contributory fault in different ways.
Some states will bar you from recovering any damages, at all, if you’re even remotely responsible for an accident. Admitting fault in one of these states will prevent you from getting any money for your injuries.
Other states will let you seek compensation as long as you’re not entirely at fault. Under pure comparative negligence laws, your damages will simply be reduced by your degree of fault. However, someone else also has to be at least 1 percent responsible for the crash. When you take responsibility for an accident right after it happens, it’ll be more difficult to go back and also prove that someone else shared some of the blame. As a result, admitting fault after an accident can lead to a total bar on recovery.
Others, like Pennsylvania, have rules that fall somewhere in the middle. Under Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence law, accident victims aren’t automatically barred from recovering damages simply because they share fault for an accident. You can still get money as long as you share no more than half of the blame. If you assume liability for your accident, it’ll be much more difficult to get under that 51 percent threshold. That, in turn, will likely lead to a full bar on recovery.
About the Author: Ryan Zavodnick is a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia, PA and co-owner of Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC. Mr. Zavodnick and his team have over 80 years of experience.