Don’t Apologize After an Accident. It May Be Used Against You.
For almost 40 years, Riddle & Brantley has helped thousands of North Carolina car accident victims navigate challenging insurance claims in the aftermath of an auto accident. When clients come to us for assistance after a car accident, we’re often asked the question, “Is apologizing after a car accident admitting fault?”
In this blog post, we discuss whether an apology is an admission of fault in an auto accident in North Carolina.
The Danger of Apologizing After an Auto Accident
North Carolinians take pride in being polite and friendly, even to people we don’t know well. For example, we may find ourselves apologizing for bumping into someone while walking or getting in someone’s way, even if it was just an accident. Oftentimes, we try to be courteous by apologizing when we’ve caused an inconvenience to someone else. While these minor apologies may be polite, it can cause major problems for your car accident case if you happen to apologize for an auto accident that really isn’t your fault.
Although you may feel compelled to say “I’m so sorry!” to the other driver immediately after getting in an accident, that well-intentioned statement can have serious consequences for your North Carolina auto accident claim.
“Do not admit fault or apologize after an accident. You may jeopardize your claim for compensation for your injuries.”
–Gene Riddle, managing partner and attorney, Riddle & Brantley
Saying you are sorry can have negative consequences in any personal injury case you decide to pursue.
Never Admit Fault to the Insurance Company
Making an apology — even if you are not truly at fault — can have a significant impact on your claim for compensation. Even when the other party is clearly at fault, your apology can be used by the insurance to deny liability based on your contributing to the accident. This is called the law of contributory negligence and even a small amount could bar your right to recovery under North Carolina law.
Injury victims should be especially careful not to apologize or admit fault in any statements to the insurance company. In many cases, claims adjusters, insurance company representatives and/or defense counsel will use recorded statements against you in seeking to pay as little as possible on your claim. Accidents are traumatic and can happen in an instant. It may be difficult for you to recall exactly how the accident happened, especially if it occurred in an intersection.
If this is the case, the insurance adjuster may try to encourage you to make statements that suggest you contributed to the accident, such as “I told the other driver ‘I’m sorry’ because I looked both ways pulling out from the stop sign, but I just didn’t see him coming.” An insurance adjuster can use that statement against your claim for damages.
What if the Other Driver Admits Fault?
If you are in an accident and the other driver admits fault afterward, this may be considered an admission of fault that could be admissible in court. If you are hit by another driver and they admit fault after the accident, take the following steps to help gather evidence in support of your case:
- If there are witnesses to the accident who heard the other driver admit guilt, ask for their name and phone number. Their testimony may be helpful to your case.
- When you give a statement to the officer, be sure to tell them what the other driver said to you after the accident, including any apologies.
- See if local businesses, intersection cameras, dash cams, or witnesses have footage of the accident.
- Ask the officer if the other driver received a citation for the accident.
The above information can be important evidence that may potentially help win your case, especially if the insurance company tries to argue that you were partially at fault for the accident. Our law firm has a team of experienced accident investigators on staff who can investigate the crash scene, identify and interview potential witnesses, obtain accident report(s), collect and preserve critical evidence, and more. In many cases, we even bring in outside experts like accident reconstructionists to help prove liability.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, do not admit fault and immediately contact a Riddle & Brantley injury attorney at 1-800-525-7111 to have the accident investigated.
You do not want to jeopardize your potential claim for compensation.
Our Experience with Clients Apologizing in Car Accident Cases
The injury attorneys at Riddle & Brantley law firm handle car, truck, motorcycle, and other accident cases involving victims throughout North Carolina. We have seen many mistakes that people make after an accident. These mistakes can impact and complicate the victim’s fight for compensation. We encourage victims to avoid apologizing or saying you are sorry after an accident.
Although it may feel rude, often it is best to avoid discussing the accident at all with the other party involved. If the car accident was not your fault, it is especially important to never make statements to the insurance company that could suggest your actions may have contributed to the accident.
Remember, the insurance adjusters are not on your side. They often look for ways to deny an auto accident claim under NC state law to avoid having to pay out compensation on claims. If an adjuster can construe your apology to be an admission of fault, they may argue that you were contributorily negligent and deny compensation. Therefore, we always recommend that you consult with an experienced car accident injury attorney before making any statements to the insurance company.
If you’ve been in a car, truck, or other accident and suffered an injury due to another person’s negligence, call 1-800-525-7111 today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation with the experienced injury lawyers at Riddle & Brantley.
There is no obligation for a free consultation with our team, and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your accident injury case and recover compensation for you.
Wait for the Accident Investigation
Many people will apologize after an auto accident because they question themselves on whether they caused the accident or could have done something differently to avoid it. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye, and victims typically do not know anything about what the defendant driver was doing in the seconds, minutes, or even hours before the collision.
Even if you feel you may potentially be at fault, there are certain facts, circumstances, or information that you may not have knowledge of immediately after a crash. You may not know of very important circumstances that could have contributed to the collision that may help your case, such as:
- Whether the defendant was drinking or taking drugs before the collision
- Whether the defendant was negligently entrusted with the vehicle, such as when a parent gives their 14-year-old unlicensed child permission to drive the car around the neighborhood
- Whether the defendant was driving carelessly or recklessly for the road or weather conditions
- Whether the driver was engaged in an activity with an obviously high risk of causing serious harm to the people around them, like street racing or actively fleeing a police pursuit
Remember – You should never accept fault or apologize in the aftermath of a car accident, because you really cannot be sure what took place until the facts and circumstances of the crash have been investigated. Do not assume anything until your accident has been investigated by a North Carolina car accident injury attorney and investigators, and do not apologize or admit fault before liability has truly been determined.
Apologizing is natural, but…
Saying you are sorry is common practice in confrontations and unexpected incidents — even if you simply feel you’ve inconvenienced the other party — but with something even as “minor” as a fender-bender, do not simply “take the blame” before the accident has been investigated.
Unfortunately, apologies can often be construed as an admission of fault. Statements like this can potentially endanger your right to compensation if you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence. The best thing to do after an auto accident is to speak with an experienced North Carolina injury lawyer.
After a car accident, it is important to hire an experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible to advise you on your legal options and help you prepare any statements to the insurance company.
Even if it feels natural to say “I’m sorry” immediately after an accident, do not simply admit fault or apologize for an accident. If the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence, you deserve justice and you may be entitled to compensation.
For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced North Carolina injury lawyer, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the short form below.
At Riddle & Brantley, we believe ALL North Carolinians deserve equal justice under the law. If you are the victim of a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, our team of experienced car accident attorneys is committed to fighting for the justice and compensation you deserve.
Call 1-800-525-7111 today to speak with our skilled team about your auto accident case.