After an accident, even if you believe you might have been at fault for causing it, you should never admit or even suggest that you might have been at fault. Vehicle crashes happen quickly, and in the aftermath you may be left dazed and confused as to how the accident occurred and what you should do. Even saying “I am sorry” may be used against you as an admission of guilt later, so it’s best not to say anything at all and to get yourself an experienced car accident lawyer who knows how to handle the situation.
You may feel that the crash would not have happened if you had done something differently, but accidents are rarely caused by just one factor. There may be multiple reasons and parties responsible for the crash, and you have no way of conclusively knowing whether your actions were the main reason. If the accident caused property damage and injuries, police and insurance companies will conduct investigations, and your lawyer will investigate as well, to find the at-fault parties and the factors that contributed to the accident.
In Texas, it’s especially important not to admit fault after an auto accident, because Texas uses what is called a tort liability system. This means the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying for damages. If you are not found at fault and the other party’s insurance pays, you don’t have to file a claim with your insurer and pay a deductible or higher premiums. Also, if the other party doesn’t have sufficient coverage to cover your expenses, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover the difference and pay for the damages you received. However, if you are the one found to be at fault, you and your insurance company will be responsible for covering the costs of the damages from the accident.
This is not a situation you want to find yourself in, so do not admit to any fault. After all, vehicle crashes are complicated, and many factors may have contributed to the accident. The other driver may have done something wrong, like driving drunk or distracted, and equipment failure or even bad weather and road conditions can be involved. So, even if you believe that you are at fault for your accident, it is a good idea to say nothing, speak to an attorney, and let your attorney find the factors and parties responsible so that your liability is reduced and you may be able to receive compensation for the injuries and damages you received.
What Happens If You Admit Fault In A Car Accident?
Admitting Fault Can Impact Your Accident Claim
If you admit fault in a car accident, you can lose your chance to win compensation for your damages. Because Texas is an at-fault state for traffic accident personal injury, if you are found to be 100% to blame for the accident, you may also end up footing the bill for not only your own losses, but 100% of the other party’s injuries and property damage.
After an accident, insurance companies will try to speak with you about what happened and what caused the accident. They may ask leading questions, designed to get you to admit something, and will record your answers. If you admit fault, they will use this against you to devalue or deny your claim.
Once you admit fault after a car accident, it can place all financial liability on you and your insurance provider, without further investigation — even if a full investigation would have found evidence that someone else contributed to the accident. If you do not admit fault, the insurance company will have to investigate the crash.
In a crash that causes serious injuries and property damages, the chances are that insurance will not cover all damages and that there will be a lawsuit to recover the costs involved. If you file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages caused by the accident, you and your attorney must prove that the other driver or another party or entity did something to cause or contribute to the accident. Once you admit fault, you are making it easy for the opposition to hold you responsible for the accident. So, say nothing and let your insurance company and your lawyer investigate the accident to gather evidence and identify all parties who may have been at fault and contributed to the crash.
Contributory Fault in Texas
Texas uses a system of contributory fault called proportionate responsibility to determine liability after an accident. According to the law (TX CPRC Title 2 Chapter 33), you may still collect damages if you were only partially at fault for the crash, as long as you are found to be less than 51% at fault.
Contributory fault assigns a percentage of fault to all parties who caused the accident. If your fault is less than 51%, you may still receive compensation from the other party or parties who were at fault for the accident, but your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
For example, if you are found to be 25% at fault for causing the car crash, and the other parties are found to be 75% at fault, you could receive 25% less than the claim’s value. If your damages from the crash totaled $100,000, you could receive $75,000.
Damages Awards You May Receive
The term damages refers to the costs and injuries resulting from an accident and injury and also to the award you may receive for your losses. In Texas, you can seek compensation for both your economic damages and your “non-economic” damages as follows:
Economic damages are for monetary costs, which may include:
medical and rehabilitative bills
lost wages and earnings
costs of modifying a home or vehicle, such as for a wheelchair
funeral costs in case of death.
Non-economic damages cover damages that don’t have a specific monetary value but negatively impact your life, such as:
pain and suffering
emotional, mental anguish
loss of companionship or consortium
Punitive damages – In some rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are intended to punish a defendant who acted incredibly recklessly or egregiously and to deter such behaviors in the future.
Amounts of Damage Awards
There are a wide range of damages amounts that may be awarded in an accident, from thousands to millions of dollars. Amounts you may receive depend on the costs incurred and factors such as the severity and permanence of injuries and the availability of insurance and assets of the defendants.
Admitting fault can significantly hurt the amount of damages you receive in a settlement. Even if you did contribute to causing the accident, you want your percentage of fault to be found to be as low as possible. After investigating the crash, your attorney will often hire experts to testify as to who was at fault and proceed with your case accordingly. So do not admit to anything, and let your lawyer handle your claim.
How Is Fault Determined After An Accident?
Your Lawyer Must Prove Negligence
A key part of accident cases is the concept of negligence. To win your case, your attorney would have to show that another party, the defendant in the case, was negligent and at fault for causing the accident that injured you. This means showing the following legal elements:
Duty: The defendant had a duty not to cause harm.
Breach: The defendant breached this duty by actions or failure to act.
Cause: This breach caused the accident that caused your injuries.
Damages: You suffered damages as a result.
If you’ve been hurt and you seek the assistance of a lawyer in a personal injury case, it will not be up to you to determine who was acting negligently, so do not admit fault. Even if you believe you were at fault, there may be underlying and unknown factors that contributed to the accident, such as defective brakes that prevented the other driver from stopping in time. Your attorney will investigate your case; gather evidence such as from photos, videos, tire tracks, and interviews with eyewitnesses and first responders; and hire experts to determine all parties who were negligent so that you can win the compensation you deserve.
In cases where there may be more than one negligent party, your attorney would seek to identify them all and name them as defendants in the case, as they all may have insurance and assets that can go toward a settlement.
Get Help from Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
Whether or not you think you might have been at fault for your accident, before you say anything to anyone — police, the other driver, witnesses, or insurance companies — your next step after getting medical attention should always be to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law know the courts and the system, and the tactics used by insurance companies to deny claims. Terry Bryant has been practicing law since 1985. He is a former judge and is Board Certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is ready to bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to your case, keep you from making mistakes such as admitting fault, and will fight for the optimum settlement possible. He and his handpicked legal team make sure that clients are treated fairly and that they get the compensation they deserve.
At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we believe our job is to get justice for our clients — and we take it seriously. We combine a deep knowledge of the law, years of experience in negotiation and litigation, a compassionate approach to our clients, and the tenacity to go up against large corporations — and we win.
We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your accident and determine the best way to move forward. There are no fees to you unless and until we win, so call us today at (713) 973-8888 and toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 to get started.
Terry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]