What NOT to Say After a Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, then the law may give you a right of action to sue and recover damages to cover your losses. Oftentimes, however, injured plaintiffs don’t fully understand how their legal claims could be impacted by the statements they make following an accident.
Even basic, amicable conversation (whether with an insurance adjuster, the opposing attorney, or the driver who caused the accident) can lead to disclosures that undermine your claims and prevent you from securing the compensation you deserve.
Of course, you should be careful about the statements that you make, but first-time plaintiffs may not realize what sort of statements qualify as “risky.” As such, it’s important to get in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer who will take over your case and communicate on your behalf. This will prevent any potentially damaging disclosures. Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get connected to a lawyer today for free legal advice.
For now, however, let’s briefly explore some basic issues tied to verbal disclosures.
Disclosures Can Undermine Your Case
Disclosures can undermine your case in a number of different ways:
a) Disclosures that can be interpreted as an “admission of fault” can impact the allocation of fault and liability in the dispute; and
b) Disclosures that lead to an inconsistent interpretation of the facts (surrounding the accident) can weaken the proof of liability, or reduce the potential damages amount available to be claimed.
This may strike some readers as indecipherable “legalese,” so let’s explore a simple example for clarity.
Suppose that you are injured in a car accident. Before you head to the hospital for diagnostic work and treatment for your injuries, you’re able to spend some time at the scene of the accident, speaking with the driver who caused the accident by rear-ending you. In your conversation with them, you apologize for having stepped on the brakes too suddenly, as you thought you saw something on the road — this may have contributed to the rear-end accident itself.
Though it may seem like an unproblematic apology, the truth is that your statements could be used in court to undermine your claims. After all, if you’re arguing that the defendant was liable for your injuries, then they could challenge that by arguing that you actually caused the accident by breaking suddenly, and at an inappropriate time.
Accidents are complicated. Instead of evaluating the accident yourself and speaking about it with others, it’s best to remain quiet about what you “think” happened and consult an attorney first.
Some Evidence Is Inadmissible In Court
If you did happen to accidentally make some statements at the scene of the accident, it’s worth noting that some of them will not be allowed into evidence. This will be significantly to your benefit.
Generally speaking, “hearsay” statements are inadmissible in court. Hearsay statements are those introduced to prove the matter at-hand.
So, for example, if the defendant is trying to prove that you were distracted from the road at the time of the accident and is trying to introduce evidence that you said you were in a heated conversation with your passenger (when they talked to you at the scene of the accident), then that could potentially be inadmissible. It likely qualifies as hearsay — a statement that is only meant to prove the fact.
However, it’s worth noting that there are a number of exceptions to the hearsay rule. Examples include:
A) If the statement was an “excited utterance” that you spontaneously made at the spur of the moment, that can be admitted into evidence;
B) If the statement was clearly against your own interest (i.e., a statement about how you were speeding);
C) If the statement was one that reflected a “present sense impression” of the situation at-hand;
D) And more.
Hearsay and its exceptions can be quite complex and challenging to argue. As such, we encourage you to get in touch with an experienced attorney who understands how to navigate the evidentiary record and ensure that problematic statements are not admitted into evidence.
For A Free Consultation, Contact An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Near You.
If you’ve been in a car accident, then there are a number of people (and entities) that you’ll be interacting with as you explore your recovery options. These interactions could lead to disclosures that undermine your damages claims, and prevent you from securing the maximum possible compensation. As such, it’s critical that you work with an attorney at an early stage in your case.
Your attorney will act as a “middleman,” ensuring that you can avoid the frustration and hassle of these legal interactions, while also avoiding potentially damaging disclosures.