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What to Say or Not Say After a Car Accident

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What to Say at the Scene of a Car Accident in Durham

Years of Demonstrated Success in Personal Injury

Immediately after an accident occurs, your emotions and adrenaline are pumping furiously. We are all guilty of saying things that we wish we would not have said when we are in a state of shock. Most people don’t realize that what they say at the scene of an accident could negatively impact their personal injury claim or recovery; therefore, it is important to remain as calm as possible and be cautious about what you say at the scene of the accident. Our personal injury lawyers in Durham can inform you of your rights and what things to avoid saying after your car accident. When you hire Wallace Pierce Law, we take over communication with insurance providers, so you have one less thing to worry about.

Questions regarding your car accident? Call (919) 887-7892 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Contributory Negligence – How Your Words May Hurt Your Claim

Although it may be evident that the other driver was at-fault in your accident, under North Carolina law, your actions or statements could drastically affect your ability to claim damages as well. Understanding what to say or not say at the scene of an accident is essential. North Carolina is one of only four states that operate under the law of contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence law provides that whenever a person is found to share any responsibility for his or her damages, they are barred from recovering compensation for their injuries caused by the at-fault driver. This means that even if you are found to be only 1% at fault, you cannot collect damages from the other party, despite the other party being 99% at fault. Therefore, even if you did not necessarily contribute to the accident, certain statements could bring rise to a contributory negligence defense by the at-fault party, causing the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster to deny your claim.

Communicating with Drivers

In order to prevent a claims adjuster from denying your claim, you must be cautious not to inadvertently admit guilt or make a statement that could be used against you while at the scene of the accident. Simply apologizing or failing to clearly state the facts to the police officer can lead to such a denial from the insurance adjuster for contributory negligence.

After an accident, you should attempt to limit your interaction with the other driver as much as possible and focus on locating witnesses and documenting the scene if you are physically able. Be sure not to admit fault or say, “I’m sorry,” as an apology often is considered an admission of guilt. Also, do not talk about the accident with the other driver, as you could accidentally state something that may hurt your claim.

For instance, even if the accident was clearly not your fault, you would not want to make a statement like, “I pressed the gas to try to avoid the accident.” While this statement may seem harmless, the claims adjuster will likely use the comment to justify denial of your claim, especially if your excess speed contributed to your damages.

Communicating with Police Officers

Moreover, not only should you be careful in what you say to the other driver, you should also be cautious in what you say to the police officer arriving at the scene. The officer will be the one who writes the crash report and determines any “contributing circumstances” involved in the accident. The police report is relied upon greatly by a claims adjuster in determining liability; therefore, you do not want to make comments that may cause you to be contributorily negligent. Thus, comments suggesting that you may not have been paying attention, or that you may have been speeding, should be avoided.

For example, perhaps you tell the police officer that you were changing your radio station just before the accident and therefore did not see the other driver hit you. Most of us change our radio station while driving our vehicle, as it is not against the law to do so. However, if the police officer reports that you were distracted at the time of the accident, the insurance company may say that you contributed to the accident and deny your claim.

Our Durham attorneys can help you understand your rights when you call us for your free consultation at (919) 887-7892.

Hear What Our Clients Have to Say

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Settlement & Verdicts

  • $900,000 Wrongful Death

    Our client was thrown from his motorcycle and was pronounced deceased on the scene.

  • $122,000 Car Accident

    Vehicle made a left-hand turn, failing to yield the right of way.

  • $104,000 Severe Injury

    We were able to not only receive policy limits for our client but were able to negotiate her medical bills and liens to ensure that she was able to keep a good portion of the settlement.

  • $104,000 Serious Injuries

    Client was a passenger in a vehicle that was driving through an intersection when another vehicle ran a stop sign and t-boned the vehicle our client was in.

  • $102,000 Serious Injuries

    Elderly client was a passenger in a vehicle that was t-boned in an intersection where a driver failed to yield the right of way.

  • $68,712 Back Injury

    Our client suffered a rare injury that is not typically seen with the mechanics of the accident and the minimal rate of speed.

  • $61,000 Serious Injuries

    Rear-end collision where our client was pushed off the road and came to rest after colliding with several trees.

  • $55,000 Personal Injury

    Due to our client’s age and health prior to the accident, the insurance company tried to fight several of the damages in which our client was entitled.

  • $52,000 Serious Injuries

    Our client suffered injuries resulting in a visit to the hospital and a chiropractor.

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