Who Should You Talk to After an Accident?
Getting into an car accident can be a traumatic, life changing experience. And in the weeks and months following the accident, not only must you focus on recovering from your injuries, you must focus on recovering damages from the responsible parties.
Whether you pursue compensation through the insurance claims process or by filing a lawsuit, your success will depend on your ability to prove that you were not at fault for the accident, and that the accident caused tangible injuries and property damage.
The key to building a solid case is gathering convincing evidence and remaining consistent in your account of the accident. To succeed in this regard, it’s essential to limit what you say about the accident, and to whom you say it.
Giving a Statement to the Police
Any accident causing injuries or more than $1,500 in property damage must be reported to the police. Usually, the parties give their statements at the scene of the accident or in the days following. The police report will serve as crucial evidence in helping an insurance claims adjuster—or a jury—to determine fault and damages.
When you talk to the police, stick to the facts. Do not embellish the story in any way, or try to minimize the other driver’s fault. As a general rule, it’s best to give a general account of the accident, and to avoid unnecessary details or comments. With every extra detail or fact you provide, you run a greater risk contradicting yourself later on or having your statement misinterpreted.
You may not be collected in the moments after an accident, which is further reason to be conservative with your statement to the police. Some people mistakenly think they are at fault for an accident, and admit guilt immediately because of their stress or confusion. Remember that you have the right to give your statement at a later time if you are unwell at the accident scene.
The Less You Say, the Better
In most cases, you must talk to the police after an accident. You must also exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident. This information includes:
- Telephone number
- Insurance information
- License plate and car description
You do not have to talk about anything else with other drivers. And you shouldn’t. Even well intentioned statements such as “I’m sorry” can give another driver evidence of your fault in the accident. If another driver asks if you’re alright, and you say that you are fine, you may have trouble proving that you sustained any injuries in the accident.
Talking to Insurance Companies
Depending on the circumstances of your case and the details of your insurance policy, you may need to deal with either your insurance company or that of another driver. It’s best to avoid communicating with insurance claims adjusters or investigators until you have gathered all of the documents and evidence you want to use in support your claim.
When insurance adjusters call you, give them your name, address, and telephone number, but do not discuss the case over the phone. Few people can express themselves clearly without training or preparation. A few slip-ups over the phone with an insurance company representative can prove disastrous to your case’s prospects. Instead, submit a written account of the accident and supporting evidence (such as the police’s crash report) along with your claim request.
Do you have other, unanswered questions about your rights and responsibilities after a car accident? Give the lawyers from Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. a call at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation of your case.