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Should a person apologize after a car accident?

Knoxville residents are used to dealing with other people in their everyday lives. In doing so, it is natural for individuals to relate to one another in different ways and help each other out where possible. It may sound odd then that some of these natural ways of communicating with one another can be discouraged when legal issues arise.

A good example of this is with expressions of regret or apologies that occur after a car collision. For instance, last week this blog discussed a family who expressed their regret that nobody in the vehicle was wearing their seat belts at the time they were struck by another driver.

In other situations, individuals may emerge from a car accident and immediately say they are sorry or apologize for the incident. While this can be a natural expression and well meaning, it can also lead to trouble down the road if issues arise regarding liability.

The other driver will often attempt to use the injured person's apology against them in a lawsuit, by claiming the apology showed the person was actually the individual who was at fault for the crash. This can be particularly disheartening when the injured person played no part in causing the crash, as the other individual is simply attempting to shift responsibility away from himself or herself.

The trouble is, many individuals may not fully realize all of the circumstances that caused the crash in the immediate moments after the incident. They may not know, for instance, whether the other driver was on the phone at the time or whether that driver was distracted. Accordingly, until all facts are known about the accident, individuals should typically refrain from apologizing after a crash.

Source: Findlaw, "After a car accident: first steps," accessed on May 1, 2015

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