October 15, 2020 | Car Accidents
One of the most common mistakes individuals make after a car accident is admitting fault. Thinking they are doing the noble thing by apologizing for the accident they believe they caused. In reality, what they are doing is making it impossible for themselves to collect damages later on.
“But wait a minute, what if I am the one to blame?” you might be asking yourself. You might even feel guilty if you don’t admit fault if you believe you were the reason for the accident. There is, however, another way to think about fault and car accidents.
Because a car accident is a complex situation with many variables and factors, and because you can only see what happened from your own perspective, there could be things you missed. Rather than feeling guilty if you don’t admit fault right away, say to yourself and other parties involved that before fault can be assigned, an investigation needs to take place.
After an accident, when people are in shock and possibly not thinking clearly is not the best time to even discuss fault. The time for discussing fault is later, after a thorough investigation of all possible contributing factors have been weighed, and with the assistance of a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Insurance Companies Will Use Your Apology Against You
An insurance company – yours or a third party provider – will use your admission against you to deny or minimize your claim. Insurance companies are private companies and are primarily concerned about their bottom line. They will do everything they can to pay out as little as possible for damages and claims.
If you are on record admitting fault, either to the other party or to a police officer who was called to the scene, the insurance company will cite your admission as to why you do not deserve compensation.
Fault, however, is a complex issue and isn’t all or nothing. Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence system. This means that a person can sue for damages if they are 50 percent or less to blame for an accident. There is no possible way for you to determine at the scene of an accident exactly what percentage of the accident was your fault.
And if you do admit any fault right away, an insurance company will magnify your admission and claim that it is more than 50 percent, effectively barring you from any recovery.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
If it is a mistake to admit fault after an accident, what should you do?
Seek Medical Attention & Keep Track Of Your Expenses
First and foremost, you should seek medical attention for yourself or anyone who was injured in the accident. If you do need medical care, either immediately, or within the coming days and weeks, make sure to keep detailed records of all out-of-pocket expenses as this will help you establish how much you could seek in damages.
Also document any time you had to miss work and any wages you lost due to the accident.
Contact a Personal injury Lawyer Who Specializes in Car Accident Claims
After that, you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer who will investigate the accident and determine what really happened. A personal injury lawyer will look at the accident report, talk to witnesses, and will make sure you don’t say anything to the other party or an insurance company that could harm your case.
Direct All Conversations With the Insurance Company to Your Lawyer
Even if you are not to blame, it is wise to communicate with insurance companies through a lawyer. Claims adjusters might reach out to you directly and even sound friendly and sympathetic to your situation. But you should keep in mind that any settlement they offer early on represents the absolute lowest amount of money they are willing to pay out for your claim.
The Importance of an Investigation After a Car Accident in Oklahoma
There is no way for you to know what the other driver was doing right before the accident. Were they on their phone? Were they distracted for some other reason? Were road conditions not as they should be? With so much at play in a car accident, establishing fault right away is impossible.
A thorough investigation, conducted by an unbiased third-party is required. Then, after all the facts are gathered and weighed, can the issue of fault begin to be discussed. But again, because insurance companies will use admissions of fault against you, let your lawyer handle negotiations of fault.
Every year in Oklahoma City, there are more than 10,000 car accidents. If you happen to be in one of them, don’t admit fault, and contact a lawyer immediately to help make sure you get the compensation you are due.