What You Say – or DON'T Say, After an Auto Accident Can Be Critical
Hardly a day goes by that I don't see several auto accidents on our area roads. From minor fender-benders to major, devastating wrecks, our roadways are littered with the results of someone being careless, irresponsible or negligent while behind the wheel. Just over this past Labor Day weekend, 5 people lost their lives on SR 82 in Lee County.
The police will show up to investigate – even if you or the other driver doesn't call them. Often, a witness who saw the accident will dial 911 to alert the authorities. In most instances, as the police prepare their report of the accident, they do their best to try to figure out just who was at fault.
But there are some circumstances when things are not always as simple as they appear, and by talking to the police about your version of what happened, you can actually make things worse. Whether or not you decide to say anything to the police – in Florida, all you legally have to provide is your license, vehicle registration and insurance information – sometimes the “less is more” rule is applicable.
Even though you may feel you had no direct responsibility for causing the accident, the words you use with the police officer can give him a different impression. After you've been involved in a crash, especially one involving a serious injury to you or your passenger, your mind is racing, full of all types of thoughts about what happens next. So it's easy to understand that you may not be thinking clearly, and may inadvertently say something to incriminate yourself. Of course, even if you say nothing at all, the officer may issue you a traffic citation. If you disagree, you can always show up in court to give your version of what happened.
What you say – or don't say – following a serious accident will become extremely important once both drivers' insurance companies get involved. Not surprisingly, insurance companies don't want to pay a claim if they don't have to. Your testimony – what you told the investigation officer – becomes critically important at this point. You should also remember that police reports become public record after they are filed. So, if there are any other facts involving the crash that you may not want known to the public, it's too late.
The bottom line is to try to remain calm, think carefully about the words you choose, and never implicate yourself as the responsible party. Just provide the facts, don't say “I'm sorry”, and allow the police to come up with their conclusion.
If you've been injured as the result of an accident in which you feel someone else was negligent and you need help, give me a call. The auto accident attorneys at Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone, LLC, will aggressively fight to make sure you receive the financial compensation you are entitled to under the law. Call me at 239-461-5508 if you ever need help, or just complete this simple form and I'll contact you immediately.