If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is what you’re saying to police officers or medical professionals. You’re concerned about your health, your injuries, and the well-being of any passengers that may have been in your car.
You have rights, however, that you should preserve. If your accident was caused by the actions of someone else, you have the right to seek compensation from them for your injuries. The costs associated with your injuries can be insurmountable, and you wouldn’t have to bear those costs if it weren’t for the actions of the person who injured you. To protect your right to seek compensation from them, you have to be careful about what you say to those you may come in contact with after your accident.
What Shouldn’t I Say After an Accident?
You may not think that what you say after an accident can affect your ability to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries, but your statements can have a great impact on whether and how much compensation you can collect. After an accident, you may encounter a police officer who will be recording your statements and those of any witnesses, passengers, and the other driver to include in an official report. You may also be treated by medical professionals who will be creating a record of your injuries and treatments.
Finding out who caused the accident is a key component of your claim and your ability to get compensation is dependent upon fault, particularly in New Jersey. This is because New Jersey follows the law of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence says that you can’t receive compensation if you were more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. So, when an accident isn’t your fault, you have to be diligent in not saying anything that can be construed – or intentionally misconstrued – as you taking fault for your accident.
Here are several statements and phrases that you should avoid saying after an accident:
- “I’m sorry” – While you may feel inclined to apologize for the fact that the accident occurred at all, and you may even say it just out of habit, you should avoid apologizing after an accident. Whether you’re speaking to the other driver or a responding police officer, any statement that sounds like an apology may be recorded and presented as evidence that you shared fault for the accident in a future claim or lawsuit that you may file to seek compensation for your injuries.
- You know something that you don’t – You may be surprised to learn that “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer, especially after an accident. Whether you’re speaking to the police or an insurance company representative, you shouldn’t assume anything about the accident. Only give factual information that you are certain about when speaking to law enforcement, who will write a report based on your statements, and insurance companies who may use your statements to deny your future claim. Misstating information may give insurance companies an excuse to question the veracity of your future accident-related injury claim or seriously damage your potential personal injury claim.
- “Yes, you can record me” – Ideally, you should avoid making any statements to insurance company representatives. Their goal is to investigate your accident and find anything they can use to either deny your claim or reduce the value of your claim. The sole priority of insurance companies is profit-making. Insurance company investigators are very tactful when questioning accident victims. They may be able to get you to say something, unknowingly, that might give them an excuse not to pay you what you are owed. Additionally, they may ask to record you in order to create a record of your statements that can be used as evidence. Say no.
- “I don’t need medical attention” – You absolutely should get immediate medical attention after an accident. First, it’s important to make sure you are okay and your injuries are treated. Second, you could have injuries that you can’t see visually or that may be masked by your adrenaline rush immediately after the accident. Third, receiving medical attention following your accident creates a record of your injuries, their severity, and the treatment you had to receive to begin healing from them. Your medical record about your accident-related injuries will be evidence to support your claim.
We Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. The car accident attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers have decades of experience and can work to help you get the maximum compensation you are owed. Call us today at (973) 364-8300 or contact us online for a free consultation.