“I’m sorry” is a phrase that is often uttered as a gut
reaction in any situation where another person is harmed or even slightly
inconvenienced. From bumping into someone in an elevator to interrupting
someone mid-sentence, many people have been trained to offer some sort
of apology as a sign of good manners and respect. You can imagine, then,
that the urge to say I’m sorry can be even greater the event of
something as serious as a
car accident. But did you know that apologizing at the scene of an accident can end
up being a huge mistake?
I’m Sorry = I’m Responsible
Any sort of instinctual apology, while well-intentioned and innocent on
the surface, can carry a considerable amount of legal weight as it can
be interpreted by the other party and their insurance company as an admission
of fault, thereby giving them the ability to limit or deny you coverage
for the resulting damages. While it may feel rude not to apologize, it
is crucial that you resist the temptation to say “I’m sorry,”
“My bad,” or any other remorseful phrase to protect yourself
from liability. Since many people enter a state of shock after an accident,
it is important you wait to apologize or claim responsibility until a
full investigation is conducted. Even if you think you are responsible
for your crash, it is possible that the facts may prove otherwise.
I’m Okay = I’m Not Hurt
Another jerk reaction after an accident is to say “I’m fine”
or “I’m alright” to the other driver. This can also
be damaging as it can be misconstrued to mean that you are unhurt, exposing
you to difficulty when pursuing compensation for your injuries. In many
cases, symptoms of car accident injuries do not present themselves until
days or even weeks after an accident. Indicating that you are alright
will cause insurance companies to question the severity of your injuries
and jeopardize your ability to receive coverage.
Generally speaking, it is recommended you limit your words at the scene
of the accident to the facts and avoid making ambiguous “I think”
statements. Any uncertainty in your words can potentially come back to
haunt you later and cause problems with your claim. Aside from providing
basic facts to police and exchanging insurance information, it is recommended
you stay silent and avoid discussing your collision with anyone other
than your attorney.
If you live in New Mexico and are in need of legal representation following
a car accident, our
Albuquerque personal injury lawyer at Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law can provide the powerful advocacy
you need to maximize your potential settlement.
To find out what our 10+ years of legal experience can do for you, call
(505) 219-2176 today.