Like many people, you may be at a loss for how to respond after an auto accident. Even if the other motorist was at-fault, your instinct may be to accept some degree of blame. You likely think that offering them an apology could help diffuse tension and keep your interaction civil. However, doing so may come across as an admission of fault.
How an apology can affect your insurance claim
Apologizing after an auto accident may seem like a basic courtesy, but the other motorist could misconstrue your words, as could any police officers responding to the scene. By offering an apology, the police may deem you responsible in the official accident report. This, in turn, could cause you trouble when you file an insurance claim. Because Georgia follows fault-based insurance laws, your claim will go through the insurance company of the at-fault motorist. Yet, if your apology is on record, it could be grounds for their insurance company to consider you partially or completely at-fault for the collision. This could lead to them disputing, underpaying or outright rejecting your claim.
Even if you feel you contributed to the accident in some way, it is crucial that you refrain from apologizing. There might have been contributing factors – on the other motorist’s part – that made the collision impossible to avoid. Furthermore, there may be witnesses to the accident whose accounts may differ from yours. If you apologize before these facts come to light, you may end up shouldering liability that you do not need to.
Alternatives to an apology
After an accident, it is possible to be polite to the other motorist involved without apologizing to them. You can demonstrate courtesy by making sure they are unhurt and by calling for medical care if they sustained injuries. You will also want to exchange information with them, though you may not want to discuss the accident any further beyond this as a precaution.
If you apologize after an auto accident, you could miss out on the compensation you deserve. By choosing your words with care, you will improve your chances of receiving a settlement that is appropriate for your injuries and damages.