Is Apologizing After an Accident an Admission of Guilt?

The British Columbia Apology Act states that apologizing after a motor vehicle accident is not an admission of guilt. So, if you have said “sorry” after an accident, do not worry: it cannot be used as evidence against you.

Saying sorry after an accident

Often in the immediate aftermath of an accident, the words “I’m so sorry” just slip out. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to the situation. You might not even really know what you’re apologizing for. Sorry that the accident happened in the first place. Sorry that someone got hurt. You might even apologize in an attempt to placate the other party, who may have become angry and threatening.

Yet when the initial shock of the accident dissipates, you might regret what you said. Is an apology an admission of guilt? Does saying sorry prove that you accept blame for the accident? And does that void your car insurance? These are common concerns, but you need not worry. In British Columbia, the answer to each and every question is ‘no’. An apology is not an admission of guilt, nor does it invalidate your car insurance.

The BC Apology Act

This is because in British Columbia, there is a piece of legislation known as the Apology Act. Not many people know about it, but it’s actually been in existence since May 2006. It states that an apology does not constitute an admission of guilt and cannot be used as evidence to prove liability. According to the law, an apology is any kind of expression of sympathy or regret. Most other Canadian provinces have since followed B.C.’s lead and now have their own versions of the Apology Act.

In practical terms, this means that if you say sorry after a motor vehicle accident, it cannot have any bearing on your case. An ICBC adjuster will decide who is responsible for the accident using evidence such as witness statements, CCTV footage and police reports. The ICBC adjuster cannot base their decision on what was said by either party following the collision. If your case goes to court, your apology cannot be used as proof of your liability. In fact, your apology cannot be raised at all.

What to do after a car accident

Despite the Apology Act, it is not recommended that you say sorry after a motor vehicle collision. If it’s too late, then don’t worry: the B.C. Apology Act will protect you. Otherwise, simply exchange details with the other driver, including names, phone numbers and licence plate numbers. If you do apologize, the other party may take this as a green light to pursue a claim against you – even if the accident wasn’t your fault.

In any event, you will be entitled to claim Part 7 benefits following the accident. British Columbia operates on a ‘no-fault’ system, meaning you can recover your medical expenses and wages losses, to a certain extent. If you have been harmed through no fault of your own, you’ll also be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim. This provides additional compensation for your pain, suffering and out-of-pocket expenses.

To find out more about making an ICBC claim, contact our Vancouver personal injury lawyers. Either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

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