Any car accident can be emotionally traumatic. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is acknowledge that something bad happened and let your friend know you are there for them. If your friend is unsure of what to do, you can encourage them to see a doctor and get advice from a lawyer.
Often, the more seriously someone is injured, the harder it is to know what to say. People too often misjudge a sense of obligation to say something and wind up making it worse. In general, avoid being judgmental and try not to give “helpful” advice to make your friend feel better.
Tread Carefully When Talking About a Major Accident
Even though it may be well-intentioned, try not to pressure your friend into taking advice. The last thing they need to hear is their friend trying to tell them what they should do for themselves. This takes away their autonomy to make decisions on their own and can feel suffocating. Instead, be supportive during this extremely difficult time.
What Should Or Shouldn’t I Say To My Friend After a Car Accident?
Even a minor bump in a parking lot can leave a driver feeling shaken for several days or weeks. More severe accidents may cause psychological trauma and mental illness even years later. Therefore, it is essential to acknowledge that your friend has legitimate feelings that she (or he) will need to deal with over time. Here are some suggestions for what to say and not to say:
- Let your friend know you understand that something terrible has happened. A simple “That’s awful” or “Man, that sucks” can mean a lot to someone after an accident.
- Give your friend space to talk about the accident, but don’t force her into it. Follow her lead and talk about whatever she seems to want to talk about.
- Let her know that you are there if there’s anything they need.
- After a serious accident, don’t try to give her false hope with stories of miraculous recoveries.
- Don’t try to tell them how they should act to “feel better” about their situation.
- Try to be as normal as possible. Your friend is still your friend, even if they are in the hospital or otherwise dealing with injuries.
- Check in often, and spend time doing whatever your friend feels up to doing.
This is just general advice you should follow. While this guideline may not fit every scenario, you can use it to get an idea of how you want to talk to your friend in their time of need.
What If My Friend Acts Like the Accident Wasn’t a Big Deal?
Everyone deals with accidents in their own way. If your friend insists they are fine, suggest that she go see a doctor anyway. Many car accident injuries take days or even weeks to develop, and there’s no downside to getting a doctor’s evaluation.
If your friend develops issues after their car accident, such as back or neck pain, it could be a sign of injury, and you can once again encourage her to see a doctor. The longer they wait, the harder their injury may be to treat.
What if My Friend Thinks the Accident Was His or Her Fault?
It’s common for accident victims to blame themselves, even if the accident wasn’t really their fault. But if your friend tells the insurance company the accident was their fault, it will be tough to recover money, even if someone else caused the accident.
Tell your friend to wait and let the insurance company look at all the facts and decide who was to blame. Tell her to stick to the facts when talking to the insurance company and never take the blame or offer any opinion about what caused the accident.
Inform Your Friend About the Statute of Limitations
If they aren’t aware already, you should let your friend know about the statute of limitations for car accidents. In Georgia, you have two years to file a claim under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 9-3-33.
Remind your friend that, while they do have some time to get their affairs in order, they should keep the statute of limitations in mind should they seek compensation.
Should I Tell My Friend to Talk to a Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer can make sure your friend’s legal rights are protected, can help your friend get medical treatment, and can remove a lot of stress by handling negotiations with the insurance company. Just having a lawyer can often mean your friend will get thousands of dollars more than she otherwise would have.
To help your friend recover financial compensation after an accident, you should tell them to get in contact with a car accident attorney as soon as possible. The OCGA § 51-12-33 requires car accident victims to ensure they’re not 50% or more responsible. So the faster they build a case with a lawyer, the easier it is to recover a settlement.