What Should You Say to the Other Driver After a Car Crash?

You’ve just gotten into a car accident in Atlanta, and emotions are running high. You—and the other driver—are filled with adrenaline, and you’re trying to figure out what to do about your damaged vehicle and personal injuries. What should you say to the other driver after a car crash?

What you say to the other driver—and also what you don’t say—is crucial in this situation.

  • Don’t apologize for any reason.
  • Show empathy to the other driver and make sure that everyone is out of harm’s way.
  • Immediately call first responders to the scene.

Why You Shouldn’t Apologize After a Car Crash

If you’ve just been in a car accident, it’s important that you don’t explicitly apologize or take responsibility for the accident. The accident might not have been your fault, and saying that you’re sorry or apologizing in any way could have insurance and legal ramifications.

It Might Not Be Your Fault

Many people get the impulse to apologize to the other driver after a car accident, mostly to show empathy and try to diffuse emotions. Sometimes we might find ourselves offering an apology even if the accident wasn’t our fault—but you shouldn’t apologize for any reason.

Even if you initially believe the accident was your fault, it may not be. For example, the other driver could be intoxicated, or they could give you an inaccurate or misleading account of what caused the accident from their perspective.

You shouldn’t take accountability for an accident you didn’t cause. It’s always best to call a police officer to the scene—even for minor accidents—so the officer can give an unbiased assessment of the situation and determine fault.

Legal and Insurance Ramifications

Following a car accident, insurance companies will run a thorough investigation into the accident. Auto insurance companies do not want to pay out claims, so they’ll look for opportunities to blame you for the crash. If you’ve apologized to the other driver, they can use this as evidence that you were to blame, even if the fault lies with the other driver.

Also,  if the other driver files a lawsuit against you seeking damages, their attorney may use these statements as evidence in the case.

Related Blog: Should You Seek an Atlanta Doctor Right After a Car Crash?

What Should You Say to the Other Driver After a Car Crash?

You shouldn’t apologize to the other driver after a car accident, but that doesn’t mean you need to be silent either. Here’s what you can say after a car crash, and some things you can do to avoid letting the situation spiral into hot tempers and hostilities.

Call the Police

Always call the police following a car accident—even a minor car accident—and ask for an officer to respond to the scene. You don’t need to make this phone call in front of the other driver; you can sit inside your vehicle (as long as it’s safe and you’re not in immediate harm from other drivers) and make this call privately.

If the other driver is getting angry, then a police presence will help diffuse the situation. The officer will also help you and the other driver establish the root cause of the accident and create a police report that determines fault.

In some cases the other driver may ask you not to call the police (especially if they’re intoxicated or driving with a suspended license). That’s never a good idea; don’t forget that you’re the one in legal and financial jeopardy if they, their lawyers, or their insurance company later decide to blame you for the crash. 

And, if you suffered an injury in the crash, you may not be able to make a solid insurance claim if you don’t get the true facts established.

Show Empathy, Not Guilt

Don’t express guilt about the car accident, but show empathy. Make sure the other driver is okay and that everyone at the accident scene is out of harm’s way.

You can say, “How is your arm? Should I call an ambulance for you? What a terrible way to start the morning.”

But you shouldn’t say, “Your arm might be broken! I’m so sorry about this and the damage to your car!”

Remember that you’re a victim, too: you might have also received injuries and vehicle damage that can take a physical, emotional, and financial toll on you. You deserve empathy, as well.

Don’t Be Aggressive

Even if the driver caused the accident and you have good reason to be angry, it’s best to keep control of your emotions. The most important thing is making sure that you and the other driver are okay and that everyone is out of harm’s way. Determining fault and handling insurance claims will come later.

Shift your focus to other things that you need to do at the scene:

  • Call for first responders
  • Take photos of the accident scene, including injuries and auto damage
  • Get the other driver’s license plate number
  • Collect contact and insurance information from the other driver

Related Blog: What Evidence Should I Collect After an Atlanta Car Crash?

What if the Other Driver Wrongfully Blames Me?

If you were not at fault for the car accident, a first responder should be able to analyze the accident scene and determine that the other driver was at fault.

Unfortunately, things don’t always work out so smoothly, especially if a first responder never comes to the accident scene or if they can’t firmly establish fault.

The other driver might tell their insurance company that you were to blame for the accident, and the insurance company won’t offer you a fair settlement—if any settlement. Or, the driver might even file a lawsuit against you claiming damages.

If this happens to you in Atlanta, you should immediately call a personal injury litigation firm like Schneider Williamson. We have an experienced legal team on hand that can help protect you from lawsuits in which you’re wrongfully blamed for a car accident and we can help you fight the insurance company so you can receive the compensation you deserve. We have a spectacular track record helping car accident victims who are not being treated fairly by the system.You can schedule a consultation with us at no charge.

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