If you have been the victim of an accident that was not your fault, you may be receiving a phone call from the other side's insurance adjuster at some point. You will notice that the caller is very courteous and friendly, but you should proceed very cautiously if asked to give a recorded statement. Read on to find out how giving a recorded statement could affect your personal injury case.
Must You Give a Recorded Statement?
The insurance adjuster may leave you with the impression that you are expected or even required to give a recorded statement in order to be paid for your claim, but this is not the case. You may encounter the promise that the recorded statement is a mere formality, and a nice check will be coming your way soon afterwards. Be very careful when speaking to the other side's insurance company; it is seldom in your best interest to say anything at all on record about the accident.
What Could Go Wrong If I Give a Statement?
Insurance companies are not in business to provide claimants with quick and fair settlement checks; they are a for-profit entity and must answer to their shareholders when profits are calculated. The insurance adjuster's job is to keep any payouts to an absolute minimum and to reduce their agency's liability in the accident, so they use special techniques in questioning that could harm your chances at a fair claim.
The Issue of Inconsistency
You will likely tell the story about your accident many times: it's only natural to seek the support of friends and family when you have been involved in something as traumatic as a car accident. However, your memory of the event can come and go, and that is entirely normal and expected. However, these tiny inconsistencies in your retelling can also emerge when giving a recorded statement. The story you tell to people will be checked against the facts of the case, leading to the potential for being accused of being dishonest by the other side. Be particularly wary of what you say to
- the other driver and occupants.
- ambulance, fire, and medical personnel.
- your insurance agency (see below).
Your Own Insurance Company
While you can (and should) refuse to give a recorded statement to the other side's insurance company, your own insurance agency will also be requesting such a statement. Unfortunately, it is very likely a provision of your coverage that you give a recorded statement. Consult with your attorney before you give the statement to ensure that you are not endangering your case in any way and be well prepared before the call. Keep your answers to the point and consult frequently with your notes to avoid inaccuracies.
Consult with a personal injury attorney, like one from a firm such as Jacobs & Barney LLC, for more information about recorded statements.