You’ve gotten in a car accident, and you feel like you’re at least somewhat to blame for it. In stressful situations like these, this can be a common reaction. Before explaining what you should do, it’s important that you know what you shouldn’t do, and that’s tell anyone at the scene of the accident that you think you may be at fault. Even saying something as innocent as an apology to the other driver can come back to haunt you later.
It’s always good to tell the truth regarding what happened in an accident, providing your version of events to the best of your recollection. However, in regards to who is at fault for the accident, keep in mind that it’s not your job to decide whether or not you were at fault. That is the job of the insurance adjusters and, should a court case result from your accident, the judge and jury.
When you’ve been in an accident, it’s unlikely that you can say with any certainty who was at fault. For all you know, the other driver was texting and driving or failing to follow other traffic laws. Because you don’t know the entire situation, taking any responsibility at such an early stage isn’t wise.
Regardless of your thoughts on who was at fault for the car accident, wait for the police to arrive at the scene. Tell them what happened to the best of your ability, and stick to the facts. It doesn’t do you or them any good if you try to make educated guesses about what happened.
Once you’ve talked to the police and they’ve made their report, they’ll give you the other driver’s information and you’ll be able to go. Your next move, especially when there’s a question regarding who’s at fault for an accident, is to consult with an attorney. After telling him what happened, he can give you advice on what to do going forward. He will likely obtain the report made by the police to get more information.
The other driver’s insurance adjuster is also going to come calling shortly after the day of the accident. Even if you think you may have been partially at fault, now is not the time to say that. In fact, when it comes to the other driver’s insurance adjuster, the less you say, the better.
You need to realize that the insurance adjuster’s goal is not to make sure there’s a fair resolution to both driver’s claims. The adjuster’s goal is to keep the amount that his insurance company needs to pay out to a minimum. He does that by gathering evidence against you, with the ideal situation being one where you’re found to be 100-percent at fault and your insurance company has to pay for everything. If you tell the insurance adjuster that you think you may be at least partly at fault, all you’re doing is giving him evidence to use.
To protect yourself and your rights, say and do as little as possible after an accident until you’ve spoken to an attorney. Don’t provide any recorded statements to the other driver’s insurance adjuster, and don’t complete any paperwork the adjuster sends you. Run everything by your attorney so you don’t make any crucial mistakes that can weaken your claim. Avoid telling people that you think you were at fault. It’s not being deceptive or dishonest. Providing details of the accident to the police and to your attorney is one thing, but assigning fault to yourself is a poor decision, as you can’t say for sure whether you were at fault.