If you’re a fan of police shows on television, you’ve likely heard the Miranda warning given so many times that you could recite it from memory.
Whenever a suspect is taken into custody on TV, the arresting officer gives them a series of advisories. These include the famous assertion, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
This is good advice for those suspected of crimes. It reminds suspects that making statements about their involvement in whatever crime is being investigated can be detrimental to them and their freedom.
It’s also good advice to individuals involved in car wrecks. Things you say to witnesses and insurance companies can come back to haunt you, making it more challenging to obtain the compensation you deserve and would otherwise have received.
Top 3 Things Your Attorney Doesn’t Want You to Say
In general, the less you say after a car accident, the better, especially before you have had the chance to speak to an attorney. However, the following three phrases can doom your chances of obtaining compensation before your case even gets filed.
With that in mind, it’s wise to avoid uttering these words to anyone without first talking with an attorney.
1. “I’m Sorry”
If you’ve been injured due to another party’s careless driving, you have nothing to be sorry for. By apologizing for something you did or didn’t do, you’re implicitly admitting fault to some degree.
When it comes time to seek compensation, an adverse insurance company or defendant will try to use this apology as evidence that your actions played a role in the accident. The other party might even try to argue that you were the reason the accident happened.
What to Say Instead
Instead of saying “I’m sorry” at the scene of the crash, dispense with any apology altogether and simply ask the other driver if they’re all right. Offer to call 911 for them if needed.
Asking other accident victims if they’re hurt is both an acceptable and natural way to communicate with someone after a crash, and, importantly, it doesn’t imply any fault on your part.
2. “I Think I’m Okay” or “I Don’t Feel Too Badly Hurt”
The other driver or a witness to the crash might ask you if you’re hurt. Most people will demur and respond that they don’t feel too badly hurt (unless, of course, they’re severely injured). This kind of automatic politeness can backfire, though.
If you later go to the hospital and find out that you have severe internal injuries, the other party could try to use your words to claim that your injuries didn’t happen as a result of the crash.
Imagine you get in a car wreck and tell the responsible driver you feel alright. You then see a doctor a few days later because your shoulder is hurting. At the doctor’s office, you find out that you tore a muscle in your shoulder and that you’ll need some medical treatment as a result.
If you try to pursue compensation for these expenses, an unscrupulous party may argue that your injury occurred in some other way — after all, you said you felt fine after the accident.
What to Say Instead
If someone asks you if you’re okay following a car accident, a simple “I don’t know” or “I won’t know until I see a doctor” is a sufficient response. Even if you think you’re unhurt, don’t rule out the possibility that you sustained an injury until you’ve been evaluated by a medical professional.
3. “Sure, Let’s Settle This Here and Now…”
If the at-fault party offers you a cash settlement on the spot, decline the offer. These “settlements” are more like pay-offs in that you waive your right to bring a suit or file a claim and only get a few hundred dollars, or less, in return. When that money runs out and you still have medical bills to address, you’ll be the one who’s on the hook.
What to Say Instead
If another driver offers you an informal settlement at the scene of an accident, your response should be simple: “Let me talk to my attorney first.”
Get Experienced Help with Your South Carolina Car Accident Case
If you or a loved one have been involved in a car wreck in Charleston, it’s crucial to protect your well-being both immediately afterward and in the future. Seek medical attention right away, then call West Law LLC. Experienced attorney Caroline West will help usher you through the process of filing an insurance claim and lawsuit, if necessary.
West Law LLC dedicates its practice to helping accident victims receive full and fair compensation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.