No one wants to be in an auto accident. Unfortunately, it happens, even to those people who are careful to obey all the traffic laws.
Previously we addressed the question, What Should I Do When I’ve Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
In this article, we follow-up on the previous article by discussing whether the steps to take after an auto accident should be different if you think you’re not at fault compared with if you think you are at fault.
First, it is important to understand that Florida is a “comparative fault” state.
What does “comparative fault” mean?
Some states are “pure negligence” states and others are “comparative fault” or “split fault” states. In “pure negligence” states, a damaged party cannot recover any damages if they are partially at fault. However, in “comparative fault” states like Florida, a damaged party can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault. The compensation, however, is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault. Therefore, a party that is 75% at fault would only be compensated for 25% of the damages.
Don’t Express Remorse or Regret
After an accident has occurred, do not discuss fault with the other party. Do not apologize, or say “I’m sorry.” You may feel bad that the accident took place, but an apology could be interpreted as an acceptance of fault for the accident.
Additionally, don’t express any personal regrets out loud. For example, don’t say something like, “If I wasn’t so tired, I might have noticed the other vehicle sooner and avoided it.” Or “If I had gotten my brake pads replaced like I was planning to, maybe my truck would have stopped before it hit the other vehicle.”
Statements like this could lead you to be attributed a higher percentage of fault than you otherwise would have been.
Make note of any admissions of fault by other parties
On the other hand, even if you believe the other party is 100% at fault, you don’t need to try to get the other party or parties to admit it. That’s the job of law enforcement.
Of course, if another person involved in the accident comes out and says, “I’m sorry it was all my fault” or “I did X” or “I should have done Y” or makes any other admission of fault, make sure you write it that down, and advise the investigating officer
The bottom line is… the steps to take after an auto accident are exactly the same whether you believe you were not at fault, entirely at fault or somewhere in between.
- Call law enforcement.
- Document the scene and get contact information if you are able.
- Seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident.
- Contact an attorney.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Contact the other driver’s insurance company.
- Make sure your insurance company gives you what you deserve.
Following these guidelines can help the post-accident events flow as smoothly as possible. No matter how large or small of an accident, it is important to take care of these steps. If you are searching for a auto accident attorney in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Brooksville or Inverness, the Law Office of Charles Philips is here to answer your questions and help you through this difficult time.