Advice From An Auto Accident Attorney: Say Nothing, Sign Nothing After A Crash
The scene following a car accident can be chaotic, and emotions may run high in the days and weeks after. However, it’s important to remain calm and be careful what you say and do at the scene and when you talk to other drivers, witnesses, police and insurance adjusters. Our auto accident attorneys at Moore Law Firm provide some tips on what to do and say, and what NOT to sign after a car crash.
What NOT To Say At The Scene Of An Accident
After any accident, saying “I’m sorry” is a knee-jerk reaction for many people who care about others. Don’t say “I’m sorry” or “It was my fault” to anyone at the scene, including witnesses or police. If you apologize, your words may show up in in a witness statement, video or police report, which can give an insurer a reason to assign liability and deny your claim. Remain calm, call 911 and check to see whether anyone else is hurt. It’s fine to exchange insurance and contact information but not necessary to talk about anything else. Take photos, jot down notes about the incident and be honest, accurate and factual when you speak to police.
Communicating With Insurance Companies
When you call your auto insurance company, you should also give them a straightforward, factual account of what happened. Again, do not admit fault. You may believe that your own insurance company is on your side, but all insurance companies want to pay as little as possible on claims.
Soon after the accident, the other party’s insurance company will contact you. Before you start speaking about anything, get the name, address and telephone number of the person who called, the insurance company they’re with and the person the company represents. The only information you should provide is your full name, address and telephone number. Politely decline to discuss the accident or your injuries. Insurance adjusters are often quick to offer a settlement or will call you frequently to try to get you to talk.
Don’t fall for these tactics. Avoid giving a recorded statement, and do not sign anything without first seeking the counsel of an experienced auto accident attorney. You do not have a legal obligation to give a recorded statement, and it is against the law for an adjuster to record you without your knowledge. If they persist, let them know that your attorney will provide information in writing at a later date.
It can be tempting to accept a settlement right away, but it is vital to be cautious when dealing with insurance companies. The extent of your injuries may be worse than you think, and there’s no way of knowing whether the amount offered will cover all your losses associated with the accident. Accepting a settlement and signing a release of liability could also complicate things with your own insurance company. Signing a release waives your right to sue or bring any additional claim surrounding the accident, which can leave you stuck with hefty medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that may put you and your family in a financial bind. This is highly important when settling the property damage claim. Make sure the release is for property damage only and not for any and all claims as this could jeopardize any injury claim.
As a car accident injury claim proceeds, insurance adjusters will want to see documentation of your injuries and medical treatment. They may ask you to sign a medical authorization form that releases all of your past medical records to them as well. Unfortunately, insurance companies often get access to additional medical records to see if there is anything they can use against you or minimize the injuries you sustained in the accident. Never sign anything or give verbal permission that authorizes an adjuster to directly obtain any of your medical records. There is absolutely no need to reveal your private medical history — your auto accident attorney will handle negotiations and provide only the records that pertain directly to your injuries.
Contact An Auto Accident Attorney
Being injured in an accident can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in an auto accident, contact our personal injury attorneys at Moore Law Firm to schedule a consultation.