After a serious car accident, there’s a great temptation to smooth things over with the other driver (regardless of who is at fault). If you choose to engage the other driver, you should take great care to avoid falling into the common insurance traps. Any of these three things could result in a significantly reduced insurance settlement or even criminal charges.
1. Never Apologize for the Accident
Once the dust has cleared and you have a chance to catch your breath, you might feel some unease about approaching the other driver. Even if you’re not at fault, there’s no way to know who they are or how they’ll react to the crash.
In fear of meeting the unknown, you may instinctively say, “sorry.” Even if you’re not at fault, this usually disarms the other driver and might calm them down. However, it can also have a severe impact on your auto injury case.
Saying you’re sorry is the equivalent of admitting liability. When you apologize for an auto accident, you’re signaling that you accept some fault for the crash, even if the forensic evidence and the damage would prove otherwise.
Apologizing is especially damaging in Colorado, where your fault in an accident directly reduces insurance settlements. Another car might t-bone you, and because you said “sorry,” the insurance company arbitrarily determines you are 30% responsible for the crash. The insurance company reduces your $100,000 payout to $70,000 because of that one word.
2. Never Leave the Scene without a Police Report
In Colorado, police must file a report for any accident resulting in $1,000 of property damage, an injury, or death. In the event of a minor crash, you should call the Colorado State Patrol’s non-emergency number and specifically request a police officer at the scene. Better to be safe than sorry.
Having a police officer at the scene creates a record documenting the crash. Even if your auto accident case doesn’t go to court, the police report may be used as evidence during insurance negotiation.
A good police report is an unbiased document that may include testimony from third-party witnesses. This report can help attorneys and insurance companies establish a better understanding of the accident and can prevent the insurance company from using your words against you.
Additionally, failing to file a police report after a serious car crash can have severe consequences. A driver who leaves the scene of a dangerous car crash may receive a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the severity of the injuries. That could mean a sizable fine and 1-12 years in prison.
3. Never Post About the Crash on Social Media
After a serious crash, there’s a great temptation to check in on social media and let friends and family know you are safe. This is a colossal mistake.
The insurance company’s attorney can petition for access to your account and can use anything you post on social media against you. With full access to your account, insurance companies might misconstrue a private message as admitting liability. Posting photos of yourself after the accident or reporting on your activity could be taken as a sign that your injury isn’t as severe as you claim.
After an auto accident, you should establish social media silence. Don’t give the insurance companies anything to analyze. Every message you send or photo you post directly endangers your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Grand Junction auto accident attorney from the Law Office of Chadwick McGrady, please send us an email or call (970) 644-5599.