Is It a Mistake to Admit Fault After an Accident?
New York is a no-fault insurance state. After a typical car crash, each party’s insurance will cover their driver’s expenses. If anyone was seriously hurt, however, the accident victim may have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. If you were in an accident and you think you are to blame, should you simply accept responsibility? Read on for a discussion of how admitting fault can affect you after an accident, and the reasons why admitting fault is almost always the wrong call. Call the knowledgeable NY car accident injury attorneys at Dupée & Monroe in Goshen for advice and representation after a New York car crash.
Talk to a Lawyer Before Admitting Anything
We’d strongly advise against admitting fault after your car accident, and certainly not before talking to an experienced car accident attorney. Even if you think you might have caused the accident, there are several reasons why admitting fault right after an accident is a bad idea.
It’s important to not only avoid officially admitting fault to the police or the insurance companies; you should also be careful with what you say to the other driver and parties involved. Even making a polite apology can be construed as admitting fault. Offer assistance to anyone injured, but do not say you are sorry. When talking to the police, stick to the objective facts from your perspective–the accident happened here, at this time, etc.–and avoid editorializing about who was to blame.
You Might Not Be in the Right State of Mind After an Accident
Accidents are jarring. Many accident victims experience psychological or emotional trauma resulting from car crashes. It’s difficult to trust your judgment right after a traumatic event–you might think you’re at fault when, in reality, you did nothing wrong. Just because you see someone else injured in the accident does not mean that you are to blame.
Moreover, you might have experienced a concussion or other head injury. If you were just knocked on the head, you’re hardly the person to ask for an objective assessment of what just occurred.
You Don’t Have All the Facts
Even if you are relatively clear-headed, you still do not have all the facts right after an accident. You might think you were speeding or that you changed lanes without signaling, but what if the other driver was drunk? What if they ran through a red light just before hitting you? What if the stoplight was broken or there was a massive pothole?
Even if you were partially negligent, if you admit fault and they don’t, you lose out on your chance at recovery and you give them the power to blame the accident on you. Wait until there’s been a proper investigation and you’ve talked to an attorney before you make a full assessment of what happened.
Changing Your Statement Later is Difficult
Once you’ve admitted fault, it’s hard to take it back. It’s especially difficult if you’ve admitted fault to a police officer or insurance company. Any lawyer worth their salt will point out the inconsistency of your statements and use that fact to undermine your claims, should you seek recovery at a later date.
Admitting Fault Can Hurt Your Injury Claim
If you admit fault after an accident, your insurance will come in to defend you and pay any claims of liability made against you. If you have any injuries, however, and it turns out it was actually someone else’s fault, you could lose out on your chance to collect compensation from the negligent driver.
If no one suffered a serious injury, then it might not matter as much due to New York’s no-fault insurance scheme. If you did suffer serious injury, however, and you took the blame for the accident, you may have just given up your right to compensation. Wait until you talk to a lawyer and you have all the facts to ensure that you preserve your legal rights.
If you need help getting medical treatment and compensation for the harm you suffered after a serious crash, or if you are pursuing another negligence-based claim in New York, contact the diligent and successful Goshen traffic accident lawyers of Dupée & Monroe for a free consultation by calling 845-294-8900.