One of the first questions that arise after a car accident is quite basic: Who should I talk to after a car accident?
Most of us know a famous legal maxim: “What you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” That statement from the Miranda case actually applies to criminal cases and requires the police to give suspects a warning before questioning. Ironically, however, people in auto accidents never get a warning, and the consequences of opening one’s mouth can be equally disastrous.
After an accident, it is common for the phone to start ringing immediately. Injury victims are frequently barraged by insurance adjusters, bill collectors, employers, body shops, medical offices and others who want information about the accident. Some of the statements which are made are appropriate and indeed required. Others can (and will) be used against the injury victim in a negative way.
To whom to speak and what to say after a car accident is beyond the scope of this blog, but one advantage of hiring a personal injury attorney is to designate a point of contact (our office) to do the talking for you. Not only is that better for your legal interests, but it can put your mind at rest when you are trying to recover from your injuries. If insurance companies do get through to you, you may have to fulfill your duty of cooperation with your own insurance company, but that does not necessarily mean giving them a recorded statement. In fact, your legal interests may end up contrary to your own insurer’s. In that case, giving them a recorded statement could be quite harmful. Even a seemingly innocent statement to one’s insurance company when asked how you are doing (“fine, thank you”) can be taken out of context and used to minimize your case.
But then how will the damage to your car be repaired? How can you talk to your office about the amount of time you expect to miss work? When the doctor’s office wants you to fill out a form or sign a release, should you? Any reply from you potentially falls into the category of a “statement” that may be used against you.
Just knowing this is true helps many people and focuses their minds at a time when they are in crisis and don’t know what to do. Obviously, one can turn to our Virginia Beach Personal Injury law firm, The Jeff Brooke Team, for legal guidance. A healthy dose of skepticism and common sense are always in order when you have a personal injury case and the phone starts ringing.