Giving a Statement to an Insurance Adjuster
Perhaps you have received a friendly call from a claims adjuster requesting a recorded statement regarding how the accident occurred and the type of injuries sustained. Often, the adjuster will make it seem that such a statement is standard procedure and is required. This is false. Other times, the adjuster tells you that they cannot process your claim without the statement. This is also false.
In general, you should never give a recorded statement to the insurance company or their adjuster, regardless of whether your claim involves an auto accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, head injury, or other injury claim. The insurance company only needs basic information to begin your claim such as your name, address, and phone number.
As a professional personal injury lawyer, I almost never allow my clients to give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster. Please note that for automobile accidents, unlike premises liability accidents, there are almost always two insurance companies involved, yours and the other driver’s insurance. With regard to your insurance, your policy may require you to give your insurance company a recorded statement, but usually, your company is not trying to work against you. There are, however, exceptions to the general rule that your insurance company is not trying to work against you. For example, if you are ultimately determined to be responsible for the accident, what you have told your insurance company can be used against you. Another example of when I have seen insurance companies turn against their insured is when both the plaintiff and defendant have the same insurance company. Such a relationship creates a conflict of interest which may motivate the insurance company to undervalue your claim. But you do not have any obligation to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. Even though you have the right to refuse to give the recorded statement, I have never heard of an insurance company informing an injured claimant of their right to do so.
Recorded Statements in Car Accident and Injury Cases Are Optional
As discussed above, your policy may require you to give your insurance company a recorded statement, but you are never under a duty to give the opposing insurance company a recorded statement. If you choose to give a statement, you should certainly consult with a skilled personal injury attorney before you provide one. It is important to remember that the insurance adjuster knows the tricks of putting words in your mouth and getting you to discuss your injuries in a damaging way.
A Recorded Statement Can Later Haunt You
As a strategic matter, insurance companies are usually quick to act after they receive notice of a potential claim. In most cases, the insurance adjuster contacts the injured claimant shortly after the accident and obtains a recorded statement before they have a chance to hire an attorney. Although insurance companies assert that the purpose of the recorded statement is to evaluate the claim, recorded statements are generally used to lessen the amount of compensation that you receive. For example, most doctors agree that it is common for someone to begin experiencing pain two to three days after an accident. Imagine if the insurance company contacts you within 24 hours of the accident, which they usually do, they ask if you are in pain, and you tell them that you are not in pain. Fast forward a year or two when you have accumulated thousands in medical bills for injuries that became apparent a few days after you gave the recorded statement, and you are in the middle of a trial. It is extremely damaging to your case when the recorded statement is played and the judge or jury hears your voice telling the insurance company that you are neither hurt nor in pain after the accident. Keep this in mind when you are considering whether to give a statement, and always consult with an experienced personal injury attorney first.