You’re generally a nice person. It’s not something you really have to work at. You just like other people and you’re quick to apologize whenever something goes wrong, even if it’s not your fault. You just want them to know that you care.

On the way home from work one day, you get into a motorcycle accident. It happens very quickly. You’re not really sure what happened as you hit your head — even with a helmet on — and pass out. After you come to, you find yourself sitting on the side of the road with the other driver, waiting for the ambulance.

Your instincts tell you to apologize. Should you do it?

Experts warn against it. You may think you’re being nice. Maybe you just mean “sorry that this happened to us.” But the other driver could take that apology as an admission of guilt. They may interpret it as you saying that you caused the accident and you’re sorry that you did so.

That’s when you run into problems. You may not have any idea if you caused the crash. Most accidents have a lot of factors to consider; even if you think you did cause it, a closer investigation may discover that it wasn’t your fault after all. You do not want to be on record saying that it was.

This doesn’t mean you cannot be compassionate. It just means you need to carefully consider everything that you say after an accident. Think about the ramifications and the legal rights you have, and consider how what you say at the scene could impact you moving forward.