What Happens If You Admit Fault in a Car Accident?
Right after a collision, you might feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do. When you talk to the police, the other motorist, and the insurance companies, you might be asked what happened. The other motorist might try to blame you for the collision. However, you should avoid apologizing or agreeing that you were at fault. What happens if you admit fault in a car accident? Let’s review some of the potential ramifications . . .
Inability to Recover Compensation
Admitting fault for a car accident might make it hard for you to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages. The insurance company will use your statements against you when you try to pursue a claim against the other driver.
Remember that even if you think that you might be partly to blame for the collision, you might still be able to recover compensation. For example, under Arkansas’s comparative negligence statute, you can recover damages as long as your percentage of fault is less than 50 percent. In Oklahoma, you can recover compensation as long as your percentage of fault does not exceed the fault of the other at-fault party or parties. An attorney can help to determine both your fault and that of the other driver for a collision.
Denial of Your Insurance Claim
Following a collision, the insurance company will contact you to discuss what happened. You should first know that you do not have to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. You do not have a contractual obligation to speak with the company or its adjuster and should avoid agreeing to give any recorded statement. If you admit fault to the other driver’s insurance company, the company will likely try to deny your claim. Even if you do not admit fault on a recorded call, the company will closely examine anything you said to use it against you. Instead of agreeing to talk to the company, explain that you will need to speak to a lawyer. Once you retain an attorney, your lawyer can handle all of the communication with the company on your behalf.
Statements to the Police Can Be Used Against You
When the police officer speaks with you, they will note anything you said and include it in the police report. The insurance company will want to review the police report, and if you admit the accident was your fault, it will be very difficult for you to recover compensation. Answer the questions the officer asks you truthfully, but do not make any assumptions about what occurred. Stick strictly to the facts and do not apologize, admit fault, or say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of fault.
Remember that there could be other factors that caused your collision. Even if you believe your accident was your fault, something you don’t know about could have been the actual cause. For example, you might not know that the other driver was sending text messages right before your collision or that his or her vehicle had defective brakes that contributed to your wreck. Instead, wait to speak to an attorney to learn about the factors that contributed to the wreck.
Contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook
Even if you initially believe that you might have been at fault for your crash, you should not admit fault. You might not know important details that could be uncovered in a professional car accident investigation. Always keep in mind that if you admit fault, you might not be able to recover compensation for your losses.
To learn more, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook by calling 479-783-8000 (Fort Smith), 918-912-2132 (Tulsa), or 479-455-2210 (Fayetteville).