3 Things Avoid Saying After an NYC Car Accident
The first few moments after a car accident are confusing and distressing. They’re also distracting. You’re not necessarily thinking about the legal ramifications of what just happened.
You’re hurting, or worried about the fact that this accident is going to make you late for work, or worried about what your spouse will say, or what you’ll do without a car for a few days. So it’s very easy to make mistakes.
But if you can, try watch what you say, and try to avoid some of these mistakes.
1. “I’m ok.”
Insurance companies know darn well that a lot of people are high on adrenaline after a crash and so don’t realize they’ve been hurt. They know reassuring others and downplaying injuries is a psychological impulse a lot of people share.
They even know a lot of accident victims suffer from PTSD which will need expert psychological care later.
But that won’t stop them from pointing at some police report or witness statement and saying, “Well, five minutes after the accident Mr. Smith said he was perfectly okay.”
You don’t really know if you’re OK or not yet! It’s better to avoid saying anything at all about your state unless you are giving specific information to a paramedic like, “My arm hurts,” or “I can’t move my leg.”
2. “It was my fault.”
This is something perfectly nice people say when they’re trying to be honest. But just as you don’t know whether you’re hurt yet, you don’t know whether you’re at fault yet.
And even if it seems cut-and-dry to you (because, for example, you rear ended a guy) it’s not necessarily cut-and-dry at all. “Fault” is often not 100%-to-0%. There are fault percentages.
And while New York is a no-fault state, which is simple on its surface, issues of liability are complex. Admitting fault now could get you a lot more than you bargained for later. If you happen to have assets beyond what the other driver’s insurance payments will cover, for example, that driver can absolutely go after you for the difference.
3. Anything that volunteers too much information.
You need to give the cops your license and registration information when asked. When they ask “what happened” though, it’s better just to say, “I don’t really know,” than it is to start giving lots of details.
If you’re pressed, say, “I’m not comfortable discussing any details without my attorney present.”
While it’s the cop’s job to try to determine what happened at the accident, you are not obligated to help with that. And the truth is, you probably don’t really know what happened. Accidents happen in a heartbeat, and there were probably some factors playing into the accident you didn’t even see. For example, the couple in the other car could have been having an argument that distracted the driver.
Every piece of information you volunteer beyond the basic pieces of information required by law could create problems later.
You have 10 days to fill out your MV-104 report for a reason, and it’s smart to wait until we’re there to help you with it before you do.
Remember, contact a personal injury attorney at the earliest opportunity.
It is not a good idea to wait long after an accident. While getting your injuries seen to should be your very first priority (seriously, get checked out even if you think you’re fine) contacting a personal injury attorney you trust should be one of your very next ones. The faster you move the better you’ll equip us to help you.
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David S. Leigh
David S. Leigh is a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer committed to helping those in the New York Metro area recover and find fair compensation after an accident or injury.
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