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After a car accident, it's normal to feel the urge to talk to the other party. But while it's appropriate to ask if they're ok, you should resist the urge to share more than your insurance and contact information. Do your best not to talk to the others involved as you could unintentionally admit fault and find yourself civilly or criminally liable for the accident.
No matter who is at fault, the comments you make could be construed by the other party, insurance investigators, and law enforcement as an admission. Your words are legally considered as evidence in any subsequent legal proceedings, so it is critical to say as little as possible.
Only in a minority of car accidents is one party 100 percent at fault. Often, even when a driver runs a stop sign, the other driver may not react quickly enough because they're distracted by a smartphone, for example. And even if the fault you may bear in an accident is minimal, apologizing or admitting the small role you played can easily be used against you in a court of law.
Saying something as innocent-seeming as, "I'm sorry," "My bad," or "I'm tired," could carry costly financial or legal consequences. And in some cases, you may find the other party yelling at you that the accident is your fault. Do not engage. In trying to defend yourself, you may inadvertently let a detail or two slip that can be used against you later.
And even if you are entirely at fault and feel guilty, resist the urge to admit it until you've spoken with a lawyer. Depending on the offense, the difference between your admission at the scene and one made under the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer could be tens of thousands of dollars or years in prison.
Every state has different laws when it comes to determining fault in an accident and the resulting penalties. Ohio is what's known as an at-fault state, which means that car accident victims must file a claim against the offender's insurance company to be made whole. Victims can obtain compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.
When insurance investigators are trying to determine who is at fault in a car accident, they typically examine police reports closely, which are composed by impartial agents. In fact, Ohio insurance companies usually consider the police report as the most important piece of evidence in their own investigation. They will also examine whether drivers followed the rules of the road set forth in the Ohio Revised Code.
Investigators will also examine the amount and type of damage to each vehicle to determine who is at fault. For example, if you were rear-ended, it's most probable that the driver behind you was a fault, as they likely did not leave enough space between their car and yours, their brakes failed, or something occurred over which they had control. Those who wind up in collisions after performing a left turn are also usually found at fault.
Many accidents aren't as clear-cut. Investigators will carefully analyze the evidence. When working with a car accident lawyer, Cleveland residents can get the help they need to ensure that the investigators have all available evidence at their disposal to make the right determination.
Car accident victims are prone to making simple mistakes that hurt them in follow-up investigations and legal proceedings. Following is a list of common mistakes to avoid:
Use your smartphone camera to take pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to get photos of any vehicles involved as well as surroundings. Also, gathering contact information from witnesses can be helpful.
If there's only been minor damage, some drivers leave the scene without calling the police or gathering evidence. This isn't a great idea. You may think the other party has only suffered minor damage or injury. But as soon as you drive off, their story may change. An impartial police statement at the scene can save you from inflated claims later. It can also help you avoid an insurance investigator finding you at fault because they do not have an unbiased report to review.
You also don't want to talk to an insurance investigator without an experienced Cleveland car accident lawyer present. Insurance company employees are well-versed in figuring out how they can pay claimants the least amount to which they are entitled. You could easily find yourself shortchanged by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to which you are legally entitled. That's why navigating any car accident investigation with your attorney by your side is important.
After you've gotten to safety and called 911, your next step should be to immediately call the car accident lawyers at Nurenberg Paris Injury Lawyers.
Representing clients for more than nine decades, Nurenberg Paris has the experience you need to secure the best possible outcome in your personal injury case. We'll review your case for free, and if we take it on, you'll have the expertise of some of the best car accident lawyers in Cleveland at your disposal.
So if you've been in a car accident, contact us today. Let's discuss your case and how working with us can help you secure the best possible outcome.
This content has been reviewed by the lawyers at Nurenberg Paris Injury Lawyers.
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