Say Little, Observe Much
At the scene of an auto or other vehicular accident, your silence may
induce statements by the other driver or by passengers in the other car.
People want to talk under these circumstances. Let him apologize to you.
When the police or insurance company interviews you later, you can indicate
that the other driver apologized. Do not assume that, because you
think liability is clear, his insurance company will see it the same way.
It is the insurance adjuster's job to find any way possible to get out of
paying or to reduce the amount the company must pay by finding some fault
on your side. That is what the adjuster is paid to do, and that is what she
is going to try to do.
Your job is to use whatever is available to you to let the truth be known.
One of the truths that would be helpful is that the other side made
apologies or some admissions of fault. You, yourself, will say
nothing about fault. Nor will you get into a discussion with the other side
as to what you saw or didn't see, when you applied your brakes, etc. Don't
say a word. Although the natural inclination is to get into a
conversation, you will be pleased later if you have disciplined yourself in
Instead, take the time to observe the entire scene and take photos.
If you did not carry a camera in your car, then make notes, or at the very
least make mental notes that you can put into writing later on.
If you get a chance to look inside the other driver's car, observe whether
he had any evidence of work on his seat. Are there papers opened up that he
could have been writing on or working on? Is a laptop computer open? Did he
have a cell phone out? Is there a half-eaten sandwich open on the seat?
Although taking care not to admit anything to anyone, even to witnesses or
to passengers in your own car, be sure to make mental or written notes of
any comments made by the various witnesses. If there is enough time to jot
down something for them to sign, so much the better. If not, get in touch
with each of them as soon as practicable after the accident.