The crunch of metal, the squeal of brakes – a car accident can be over in less than a second, but it can cause lingering effects and damages to your health and livelihood. While not every accident victim will end up pursuing legal damages or filing a claim with an insurance company, there are some things you should never say at the site of an accident. These costly mistakes can wreak havoc on your insurance claim and in some cases, significantly reduce the damages or settlement received after an injury. Make sure all emergencies are treated and that the authorities are notified; one the emergencies are taken care of, start protecting yourself, your health and your claim.

Don’t admit fault

The accident happened to you, you didn’t cause it. You never know what mitigating circumstances may have led to the incident – but if you accept any blame at the scene, your words will haunt you, and may damage your case. While apologizing may seem to be the polite thing to do, choose your words carefully.

Don’t decline medical treatment

Even if you feel fine, some injuries are not immediately apparent, and can worsen over time if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Never tell an insurance agent or other driver that you are fine; doing so can damage our case and your health. If you have been in an accident and feel badly the next day, promptly see your doctor and make sure your injuries are documented.

Don’t offer your private information

Offer the respondents at the scene only the information that is required by law. Don’t blurt out any additional facts about your health, medical condition or state of mind; these could be used against you in your case. An insurance company could claim your injuries already existed and attempt to deny your claim.

Don’t hurry

The faster your claim is settled, the less the insurance company will have to pay. You may be offered a fast settlement to close your claim before all of you damages have revealed themselves. Be very wary of early settlement offers and always consult an attorney before accepting.

Don’t guess

Unless you are a professional mechanic and body shop owner with years of experience, you don’t know how much it will cost to repair your car. Even if you have medical expertise there is no way to tell what your damages and healthcare costs will be. Guessing and estimating on your own can be a costly mistake – let the experts figure out your damages instead.