Is It a Mistake to Admit Fault After a Car Accident?
Never admit fault after an accident, even if you believe that you’re partly to blame. Acknowledging that you share some of the responsibility might seem like the right thing to do. However, it could end up doing a lot more harm than good. Here’s why.
Insurance Companies Are Looking For Any Reason to Deny Your Claim
Like many other states, Texas follows a fault system when it comes to car accidents. There are no mandatory no-fault insurance rules. This means that you’re not forced to seek money from your own insurance company after an accident. However, insurance will still probably be a primary source of compensation after you get hurt. As a result, you’ll probably deal with an insurance provider (or two) as you seek to recover compensation.
Whether you’re dealing with your own insurance company or someone else’s, you need to be prepared for a fight. Insurance companies aren’t on your side. In fact, they’ll do everything they can to prevent you from getting all of the money you need. They’ll search for any reason to deny your claim.
If you admit fault for an accident, insurers will use this to their advantage. They’ll use your admission of fault to justify why they decided to deny your claim. It won’t matter if you were just partly responsible for the crash. They’ll exaggerate your role and attribute more fault to you than is deserved. The company will continually point to your admission as grounds for denying your claim, and they won’t back down.
You Might Not Really Be Responsible
Are you really sure that you’re responsible for your car accident? Accidents are rarely straightforward. A lot of different factors can contribute to a crash. Weather, traffic, the time of day, and road conditions can all play a role in causing an accident. Even if you are partly responsible, others – including other drivers, pedestrians, truck drivers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists – might have also been careless and done something to contribute to your accident.
A thorough investigation into an accident is the only reason to determine why it happened. If you admit fault before your lawyer has a chance to investigate your crash, you’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage. In fact, admitting fault could prevent a critical investigation into your accident from ever happening, at all.
What happens if, after a careful investigation, your personal injury attorney discovers that you’re not responsible for your accident? For example, let’s say that you rear-ended the vehicle in front of you on a Texas highway. You’ve always been told that it’s usually the driver of the car that strikes another from the rear who’s to blame. So, you admit fault.
However, your lawyer discovers that you aren’t to blame. You weren’t following too closely and you weren’t distracted at the time of the accident. Instead, the brakes on your car were defective. To add to the problem, a vehicle in front of you was leaking oil onto the road surface after a light rain. As a result, you were unable to stop your vehicle when the car in front of you slammed on their brakes.
Sharing Fault Can Limit or Bar Your Financial Recovery
Texas, like many others, is a comparative negligence state. This means that you’re not automatically prohibited from seeking compensation just because you share fault for your accident. The bar to recovery is 51 percent. So, you can file an injury claim or lawsuit as you share no more than half of the blame for an accident. If you share fault and fall below the 51 percent threshold, your damages will be reduced.
If you admit fault, you’ll make it easier for other parties to shift blame to you. With your admission, they might even be able to allocate more fault to you than is deserved. If they’re able to convince a court that you’re primarily responsible for an accident, they’ll be able to strip you of the right to recover compensation.
It’s in your best interest to wait until it’s conclusively determined that you are responsible for an accident before admitting fault. If you say you’re to blame, you might be taking responsibility for something that you really didn’t cause. Or, you might make it easier for others to push more blame onto your plate than is deserved.
How can you protect yourself? Don’t discuss your accident with anyone – witnesses, others involved in the crash, insurers – before speaking with an attorney. In fact, the best thing to do is to let your attorney handle all discussions and negotiations on your behalf.