Even though car accidents are a serious occurrence, few people know what to do once they've been involved in one. Even a gesture as simple as an apology can get you in a lot of trouble, and may even prevent you from securing much-needed compensation for your injuries, even if you didn't cause the accident.
It's natural to want to apologize, especially when you empathize with the other party. However, even something that remotely sounds like an apology could significantly hurt your case.
An Apology Is an Admission of Fault
Even something as simple as saying "I'm sorry" can be read as an indirect confession to you being the perpetrator. If your case escalates into a lawsuit, your apology can be used against you. While an admission of guilt does not outright cost you the case, it will significantly hurt your chances of getting much-needed compensation, as insurance companies will use your admission of guilt to disqualify you from insurance coverage.
In tort states, an admission of guilt will not only mean that you lose your insurance coverage, but also that you end up having to pay for both party's court fees, medical bills, and damages. These penalties are further compounded if a person suffers a permanent disability.
It's a Waste of Time
After an accident, an apology should be the last thing on your mind. If you are able to move, get out of harm's way. Call for medical help and law enforcement. Ask for the other victims' information like their contact details and insurance details. Document what you can and when law enforcement arrives, explain your side of the story. The minutes after an accident should be a time for action, not for talking and explaining, as there is a significant risk that a pile up could happen.
Lack of Information
Most often, people who apologize believe themselves to be the cause of the accident. Wait for the results of a formal investigation before concluding your part in the accident. This can help you avoid mental and financial stress.
When asked for your participation in the form of a statement, give only what you have seen without giving your opinion. You should also consult a lawyer like this Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer so you can be guided through what to say and what to withhold.
Avoid out-of-court settlements
Insurance companies are always looking for a way to protect their business' interest. Even your insurance agent is there to make sure that the insurance company they work for pays out as little as possible. Insurance companies will almost always try to make you sign a liability release waiver, which will grant you immediate financial aid, but will force you to agree with their version of the story. In some cases, the culprit's insurance company may even try to shift the liability to you in order to avoid paying damages.
An apology will only serve to strengthen the case of the opposing party. It may seem like a trivial and polite gesture, but the truth is that an apology could potentially cost you your case and compensation.