Admitting Fault in Car Accident: When Should You Say You’re to Blame?
Being involved in a car accident can be a shocking and traumatic experience.
In the immediate aftermath of a crash, you may not know whether or not you should admit fault, call the police, notify your insurer, give an official recorded statement, or whatever else.
While there are multiple things that you should and should not do, one of the things that can harm your case the worst is admitting fault.
Car accident fault laws can have a big impact on how much you can recover. If you’re faced with admitting fault in
NEVER Admit Fault or Apologize
It may be tempting to say that you’re to blame for the accident (especially if you really are and want to clear your conscience), and it may seem natural to say something like, “I’m so sorry!”.
However, know that if you admit fault in a car accident, insurance companies can use this admission against you to significantly devalue your claim.
Even if you’re not at all to blame for the crash, an innocuous apology could be construed as an admission of fault.
Why Does it Matter So Much?
In a state like New Jersey, there are both limited-right-to-sue and unlimited-right-to-sue policies.
If you have a limited policy, you cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for your injuries or noneconomic damages unless you meet the verbal threshold (discussed below). If you do meet the verbal threshold, then
If you carry limited-right-to-sue insurance, the verbal threshold allows you to step outside of this system and file a claim against the other driver for pain and suffering damages if you have suffered serious injuries, such as the loss of a body part, significant scarring or disfigurement, permanent injury, or death.
However, again, if you have suffered a serious injury and want to step outside of this system, your fault will play a role. If you contributed to the accident through fault of your own, then your recoverable damages award will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault (NJ comparative negligence law).
What to Do After a Car Accident
The best thing that you can do after a car accident is to check for injuries suffered by yourself or anyone in your vehicle or the other vehicle involved, to ask the other driver if they are okay, and then to call the police and file a report. Do not admit fault when talking to the police.
You should, however, report facts accurately and succinctly. You should then call your insurer and notify them of the accident.
However, before you give a recorded statement, talk to your lawyer. You should never lie to an insurance adjuster, but you shouldn’t admit fault without consulting with your attorney first, either.
Our Lawyers Can Help You to Navigate Admitting Fault in Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident and aren’t sure what you should do in regards to admitting fault, contact our experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer sat O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, L.L.C. today. We can advise you and represent you through the claims process. We offer free consultations and will work hard for you.