Saying the wrong thing after a car accident may cause blame to unfairly attach to you. Thoughtless words could also reduce the likelihood and amount of any compensation you might receive.

Even if it seems unnatural at the time, avoid making these and similar statements after a car accident.

I’m fine.

With adrenaline surging through your system, you may in fact feel fine. But do yourself a favor and let the shock wear off before making a final assessment of your physical condition. Some damage, such as whiplash and traumatic brain injury, may not even show for days or weeks.

I’m sorry.

Authorities and insurance companies can interpret any apology on your part to mean you were at fault. Even though you are sorry just because the accident happened, saying so is a mistake.

It’s my fault.

Even if you feel sure the accident was your fault, you may be unaware of ways the other driver or factors beyond your control contributed to the accident. You do yourself a serious disservice by prejudging the circumstances in a self-blaming way.

Let’s handle this ourselves.

You need an official record of what happened, and you must contact the police as well as the relevant insurance companies. At the time of the accident, you can’t know all the possible repercussions. Someone may later file a claim against you, or you may later need to file a claim.

The scene of an accident is not the place to apologize or assert your well-being. Be careful what you say so that a fair outcome can occur.