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Was admitting blame after a car accident a mistake?

Portland, OR |

I was in the first accident I've ever been in two days ago, and was pretty rattled. While exchanging information with the other driver, I said I was sorry and admitted blame. I'm not even sure if it was my fault, but I wasn't thinking clearly. Is this something that could come back to haunt me?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Relevant evidence is that evidence which has a tendency to prove, or disprove, the matters relevant to a claim or defense in the case. Your statement that you were at fault would likely be relevant evidence.

    Hearsay is an out-of-court statement asserted to prove the contents of the statement. An out-of-court statement in which a person admits fault is hearsay and is inadmissible unless the statement comes within an exception to the hearsay rule or is otherwise considered not to be hearsay.

    The rules of evidence in state and federal courts include an exception to the general hearsay exclusion rule (i.e.,that hearsay evidence is not admissible) for "admissions of a party-opponent." An admission of fault you made to someone else may well constitute an admission of a party opponent in a civil proceeding arising out of the accident.

    So, admitting fault may not have been a wise thing to do, and your statement may well be admissible in a civil proceeding. Insurers tell you not to admit fault. But, all by itself, it doesn't prove you were at fault legally. Assuming your insurer hires a lawyer to defend ou, direct your questions to him or her.

    Not legal advice as I don't practice law in Oregon. It's just my two cents on your question in light of general principles of law. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer who holds Oregon licensure. That's not me.

    Good luck.

  2. Apologizing for an incident is perfectly acceptable, so is admitting fault - if indeed, it was your fault. As the other poster correctly stated, the law concerns immediate statements to generally be reliable than later statements.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff

  3. The facts of the accident determine whether you are at fault. So you really have to relate what happened for me to give you are better answer. But let's suppose there is an obvious situation like you are stopped at a stoplight and someone rear ends you. They are clearly at fault. But suppose you jump out of the car and in your shock after the accident you say "Oh I am so sorry, this is all my fault" Would your statement make you at fault when the fact's don't - of course not. Now in close situations where it is not clear at fault - things you say could swing the accident to look more like your fault - but probably not just the words "it was my fault", but more things like, "I didn't see you", or "I am so sorry I should have checked my mirror before I backed up" because in these examples you are stating things that establish you were negligent, ie not paying attention to the road.

    So there must have been facts that made you feel that you were at fault - and it may well be that you were. But think about the situation objectively. In the end the insurance companies will decide for you, and if this is your first accident you will probably be fine no matter the outcome. So relax. :)

    The comments by this author to questions posted on Avvo are designed to foster a general understanding of what might be the law governing the area of the legal problem stated and suggest what might be the approach to finding a legal solution. Under no circumstances is this author acting as the attorney for the party who posted the question or as the attorney for subsequent readers to the question or response and no attorney client relationship is being formed. This attorney's comments are not intended to be a substitute for getting legal advice from a licensed attorney. A reader of this author's comments should never act on the information provided in these comments as though these comments were legal advice and should always seek legal advice in a personal consultation with an attorney in their jurisdiction before taking action. The information provided here is not intended to cover every situation with similar facts. Please remember that the law varies between states and other countries and is always changing through actions of the courts and the Legislature.

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