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Don’t Unintentionally Admit Fault After a Car Accident

Don’t Unintentionally Admit Fault After a Car Accident
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Why would anyone admit fault after a car accident?

Emotions are running high after a collision – sometimes people get angry and start yelling, and, other times, people feel bad and start apologizing. In either case, they might hear their words again when they try to get an insurance claim approved or when they are in court because the insurance company refuses to pay…

Although not admitting fault after an auto accident might seem like common sense, it’s anything but in the chaotic aftermath of a collision. Below, we will discuss how to avoid admitting fault after a car wreck, including:

  • Why you should never admit fault at the scene, even if you think the crash was your fault,
  • How admitting fault can create comparative negligence, and
  • What happens when no one admits fault after a crash.

Do Not Admit Fault After a Car Accident

We have seen cases where a person gets into an accident, feels terrible about the crash, jumps out of their car, and immediately starts saying, “I’m so sorry, is everyone okay, I’m so sorry…,” when the accident wasn’t their fault.

Even if you believe you did something wrong and caused the crash, you may be missing something critical in the heat of the moment when your adrenaline is pumping. If you are at fault in the accident, that will become evident once the responding officer, insurance adjusters, and attorneys look at the evidence in your case.

If it turns out that your inattention did not cause the wreck, because the other driver just happened to blow through a stop sign before the crash, and you are saying, “I’m sorry, I just wasn’t paying attention” on a video at the scene, you have just created a liability issue where there was none…

Avoid Unintentionally Admitting Fault

Many people admit fault unintentionally after a car wreck. Try to avoid situations where you unnecessarily put the blame on yourself like:

  • Apologizing after the car accident,
  • Making unnecessary statements to the responding officer regarding liability,
  • Discussing liability with the other driver or bystanders at the scene,
  • Talking to the other driver’s insurance agent before meeting with your car wreck lawyer, or
  • Providing written statements to the insurance companies before meeting with your attorney.

Don’t Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Without Your Attorney

The other driver’s insurance company (and sometimes your insurance company) wants to minimize their exposure. They do not want to pay your claim, or they want to pay the least amount of money they can get away with, and their goal when they interview you is to get you to make statements that will:

  • Be evidence of liability on your part,
  • Minimize their insured’s liability through comparative negligence, or
  • Minimize the amount of damages they will have to pay.

Do not call the other driver’s insurance agent or take their calls until you have met with your personal injury lawyer.

If your car accident attorney makes statements on your behalf as part of settlement negotiations, those statements are not admissible in court against you. If you make statements to an insurance agent as part of their investigation of the case, those statements will be admissible and will be used against you.

Comparative Negligence in SC

South Carolina is an “at-fault” insurance state, which means that the person who caused the crash is liable for the damages they caused. It is also a “comparative negligence” state, which means both parties can be held responsible for the percentage of fault that is assigned to them by a jury.

If the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, they are barred from any recovery. This means that, if an insurance agent gets you to make any statements that could be seen as partial fault, they might be able to avoid paying you altogether.

If the plaintiff is 50% or less at fault, their recovery is reduced by that percentage after trial. This means that, if an insurance agent gets you to make any statements that could be seen as partial fault, they might be able to significantly reduce the amount of damages they must pay you.

What Happens When No One Admits Fault?

What if no one admits fault at the scene?

That’s fine

The responding officer will file an accident report showing the location and position of the vehicles, their observations, and any witness statements.

The insurance adjuster will investigate the crash, review the accident report, get a statement from the insured, and attempt to question you.

Your car accident attorney will review the accident report, talk to you, interview any other witnesses, review any photos or video of the scene, visit the accident scene in person, view the damage to the vehicles, and retain an accident reconstructionist or other experts when needed.

Both sides will discover what happened and gather the evidence they need to prove liability and damages. Take photos or video of the roadway, vehicles, and any injuries, but only if you can do so safely.

The important thing is that you do not make statements at the accident scene when you are emotional or make statements to an insurance agent who is trained to get you to admit fault.

What if the Other Driver Blames You at the Scene?

Some people will get angry after a car accident, and sometimes they will blame the crash on you – even when it is not your fault. What should you do?

Just let them talk

You don’t have to reply or argue with them. It will only help your case later if they are angry or blustering.

You can simply deny that the crash was your fault or say nothing until law enforcement arrives. The bottom line is that, if they say the accident was your fault, they must provide evidence that proves it. Don’t let that evidence be your own statements to the other driver, officer, or insurance agent.

Got Axelrod?

Soon after an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will begin to seek information and statements that they can later use to show liability or comparative negligence on your part. This is why you should never give statements to the insurance companies before you have consulted with your auto accident lawyers at Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at 843-258-4582 or fill out our contact form today.

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