Car accidents in the US occur thousands of times a day. As a nation, we spend roughly $230.6 billion on car crashes each year. In this way, they are a normal part of our lives.
After being in a car accident, however, it may be difficult to keep a cool head. Whether the accident was your fault and you’re nervous about the repercussions or it was the other driver’s fault and you’re steaming mad, you must remain calm.
Regardless of the circumstances of the accident, you need to watch what you say, especially at the accident scene. The last thing you want to do is incriminate yourself or indirectly admit guilt.
Things Never to Say at an Accident Scene
Many people involved in car accidents have let the occasional “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t even see you there” comment slip out.
Even though it’s only natural to want to communicate with the other driver, be careful what you say, or you could pay for it legally and financially. Here’s a quick list of what you should never say, regardless of if you are at fault.
While saying you’re sorry at the accident scene may seem appropriate, it is also an inadvertent admission of guilt. Saying “I’m sorry” implies that the accident was your fault. And even if that’s not the message you’re intending to get across, the other driver, their car accident attorney, and the police may take it that way.
Avoid apologizing in any way, which is actually more difficult than it sounds. Instead, ask if the other driver is okay. If they’re angry and blaming you, try to de-escalate the situation and tell them to wait until the police get there to discuss it.
“I Didn’t See You”
Saying anything along the lines of “I didn’t see you” is also an indirect admission of guilt. It implies that you weren’t paying attention and can (and likely will) be used against you.
Even if you truly didn’t see them and you believe the accident is your fault, don’t say anything about it. For all you know, they failed to yield, ran a stop sign, or were otherwise driving distracted.
“I Don’t Know What Happened”
It may be difficult to know what to say after an accident, especially if you’re not sure what happened. However, one of the last things to say at an accident scene is “what happened?” or “I don’t know what happened.”
This creates a wide-open window for the other driver to peg the blame on you. If they were texting and driving but you’re in the clouds about what happened, they could say it was your fault. Never divulge any admission of guilt or responsibility until all the facts are in.
Don’t Try to Interfere with the Other Driver’s Police Interview
At the accident scene, it may be tempting to try to listen in on the other driver’s account of the accident while they talk to the responding officer. However, it would be a bad idea to try to interrupt them, correct their story, start protesting their version of the accident or otherwise butt in.
It’s the officer’s job to get both accounts of the accident so be patient for your turn. Additionally, hanging around to eavesdrop makes you look a little suspicious. If the other does lie about it, it will likely come out in the investigation.
Don’t Lose Your Temper with the Other Driver