Auto accidents can be stressful, especially in the minutes after the accident. Adrenaline is pumping, witnesses are gathered, police or emergency responders are arriving- this is certainly not the best time to engage in any sort of serious discussion.
Regardless of who was at fault, less is more when it comes to talking to authorities and insurance companies after an accident. Although the truth should always be spoken, there are some guidelines as to what not to say to your insurance company after an accident.
Most insurance companies don’t like to pay out claims, as claims take money out of their pocket. This is why it is important to be careful what you say- especially to the other driver’s insurance company. They will use whatever they can to give them a reason to deny your claim or minimize your injuries.
- When speaking with insurance, it is best to stick to the basic facts, like when and where the accident happened. Don’t offer additional information, make assumptions, or assume any type of blame. The insurance companies or law enforcement can draw their own conclusions regarding the accident with the facts they are given.
- Never say that the accident was your fault or apologize for the accident. This shows that you are assuming blame for what happened.
- Do not say that you aren’t injured, even if you don’t believe that you are. Some injuries take time to surface, especially with high adrenaline levels coursing through the body. If asked, it is best to say that you’re not sure if you are injured. This allows opportunity later to receive care and compensation if injuries do surface after the accident.
- Refrain from answering questions for which you don’t know the answer. Guessing or making broad generalizations could result in you saying something that is incorrect or that could be used against you later on.
- Never admit to the insurance company that you don’t have a lawyer. A lack of representation could send a signal to them that you are more open to being taken advantage of.
- Be wary of recorded statements. If an insurance company requests a recorded statement, they will likely take every opportunity to use it against you in the future.
- Do not accept money on the spot from an insurance company. Most of the time, insurance companies will offer less than your claim is worth. Tell them you will think about it, and take the opportunity to consider negotiating for more.
According to Nolo, “What you say to other drivers, passengers, and witnesses at the scene of a car accident will almost never help you when it comes to the insurance claim or lawsuit process, but it can certainly hurt your case. So, watch what you say, and who you say it to.” Even simple statements such as, “I was paying attention” can be heard incorrectly and later twisted into an accusation stating that you said, “I wasn’t paying attention.”