In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, adrenaline and stress are high. Sine you are a polite person, in those moments you might feel tempted to reassure the other driver, to apologize or otherwise say things that might come back to hurt you later when you are trying to recover for your injuries. It’s best to know what you should avoid saying, so that you don’t inadvertently ruin your chances of a full recovery.
Illinois’s and Louisiana’s comparative negligence law
If you bring a personal injury suit in either Illinois or Louisiana, the court will follow comparative negligence principles. This means that the court will first determine the percentage of responsibility for the damages that each party has. As long as you are not more at fault than all of the other parties combined, you will not be barred from recovery in Illinois. In Louisiana the court will not bar you from recovery regardless of your level of fault.
Then, if you win your lawsuit, the court will reduce the amount that you can recover in proportion to your level of responsibility for your own damages. For example, if you normally would be able to recover $100,000, but the court found that you were 20% at fault for your injury, then the court will reduce your recovery by 20%, and you will only be able to recover $80,000.
The types of statements that can hurt you
After a car accident, you should determine if anyone needs immediate medical attention. If not, you should exchange insurance information with the other driver and cooperate with the police, but you shouldn’t say anything else.
If you apologize for the accident, if you make excuses, or if you try to guess what might have caused the accident, you may be giving ammunition to the other driver to use in court against you. They can use your statements to argue that you were partially at fault for your own injuries, which will reduce any recovery you can receive under comparative negligence principles.
Car accidents are always stressful, even when they don’t result in catastrophic injuries or property damage. Knowing what to say after an accident – and what not to say – can increase your chances of receiving the recovery you need to take care of the damages you suffered.