In the aftermath of a car accident, you may be feeling a lot of intense emotions. Once all the adrenaline kicks in, and the reality of your situation soaks in, you may be tempted to say apologetic phrases like “I’m sorry” to the other drivers involved. Although this instinctive social gesture may seem innocent enough in the moment, it can hurt your ability to seek compensation on a personal injury claim later.
At Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A., our Mississippi car accident lawyers can help you navigate the process of pursuing a personal injury claim against a negligent driver. We’ve seen many cases where well-intentioned clients made things a little more difficult for their case by accidentally admitting fault, and in this post, we’ll discuss why you should avoid “sorry” altogether.
Avoiding Admission of Fault in Car Accidents
Because Mississippi is a “fault” car accident state, injured drivers can choose between filing an insurance claim and filing a personal injury lawsuit. While this means you may be able to pursue greater damages when you become seriously injured, it goes both ways: The other driver or drivers may also decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, particularly if the level of fault is disputed.
This makes it all the more critical to avoid apologizing after an accident takes place. No matter how harmless it may seem, your words can come back to haunt you when working with insurance adjusters, or with the other party’s legal counsel.
Here are some of the reasons saying “sorry” after a car accident can hurt you later on:
- It does count as an admission of fault, especially to insurance companies. Whether you say “sorry” to the driver at the accident scene, or later on when speaking to insurance adjustors, the other parties in your accident can and will use this fact against you. Once your apology makes its way onto an official police report or other documentation, you will be limited in your ability to argue for compensation.
- It can reduce your total compensation in a claim. Let’s say you apologize and admit some fault for the accident, but the other driver is still found to be largely responsible for causing the accident. Under the comparative negligence rule in Mississippi Code, section 11-7-15, you are still eligible to receive damages – but your total amount will be reduced based on the proportion you are found at fault. This can impact your ability to pay for medical treatments and other necessary bills.
- It may not be representative of the actual situation. During a car accident, the trauma can cause you to forget some crucial details, while exaggerating others in your mind. Even if you truly believe that you shared a measure of fault in your accident, it’s best to avoid apologizing for it in any way. That’s because the full picture may be different from what you remember, so admitting fault early on will only inhibit law enforcement, attorneys and insurance adjusters from accurately assessing the situation.
Have you been seriously injured as the result of a car accident? Our Jackson personal injury attorneys are here to help. With decades of experience providing compassionate counsel to the people of Mississippi, we can help you seek recovery in the wake of your serious and painful injuries, even if you’ve already accidentally admitted fault. Regardless of your unique situation, we will strive to obtain the optimal outcome for your case.