Your emotions are high in the immediate aftermath of your car accident. As a result, you might not know what to say or do, especially when you’re being bombarded with questions and accusations by other drivers, the police and paramedics.
Even though it can be difficult, you really have to be careful what you say after being involved in a car accident. After all, anything you say could jeopardize your personal injury claim.
Your words and comparative fault
Under Georgia law, the amount of compensation that you recover from a personal injury lawsuit can be reduced by the percentage of fault that the court attributes to you. This is known as comparative fault.
What you say after an accident can help a defendant prove that you were comparatively negligent in your accident, which could even bar you from recovering compensation altogether. For example, if you get out of your car after a crash and apologize, indicating that you shouldn’t have been driving so fast, then the other driver is going to latch onto the fact that your apology is an indication of wrongdoing and your admission of driving too fast is indicative of your own negligence.
Your account may be incorrect
Even if you don’t plan on making any admissions of fault, your statements of your observations may turn out to be inaccurate. This is understandable given the amount of stress and adrenaline that’s coursing through your body in the moments leading up to a wreck.
However, these inaccurate statements may end up hurting your claim. The other driver may use them to show that your testimony in your case isn’t reliable, and that you’re attempt to blame them for the accident is misplaced.
Your words can be taken out of context
Even if you’re extremely careful with what you say, your words can still be misconstrued and used against you. The other driver may not fully understand what you’re saying, or he or she may have selective hearing. Either way, your words probably aren’t going to help you as much as you think, whether you’re talking to the other driver, the police, or an insurance company.
So, what should you do after an accident?
If you have time to get an attorney before speaking to anyone, then you should probably do so. These legal professionals can help you craft your statements so that they are clear and unambiguous. They can also help protect you from being boxed into statements that you didn’t intend to make.
If you don’t have time to get an attorney, then you should be careful and limited in what you say. Stick to the objective facts and state only what is absolutely necessary to answer pertinent questions.
If you need time to think before responding, don’t be afraid to say so. You just went through a traumatic even, so it’s reasonable to need a few moments to collect your thoughts before talking.
Protecting your legal claim
At the end of the day, you want to be careful with what you say because you want to protect your ability to impose liability on the driver who harmed you and recover compensation for the damages that have been unfairly thrust upon you. But dealing with these statements is just the beginning of your personal injury claim.