Whether you were in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, or even if you’re a pedestrian hit by a vehicle, insurance companies are going to be involved. An important aspect of this process includes providing recorded statements to your insurance company or the other party’s insurance provider. In all cases, it is advised that you approach this subject with great caution to protect your legal rights and you ability to get fair compensation for your injuries.
Understanding Recorded Statements in Insurance Claims
A recorded statement is an audio or video interview taken by an insurance adjuster, detailing the events leading up to and during an accident. This statement may include specific details about the circumstance of the accident, your account of the events, your personal details, and your perceived injuries.
However, providing such a statement can be a double-edged sword. While it might seem like a cooperative move to aid in claim processing, it could also be a potential trap set by insurance adjusters to mitigate company payout. It’s essential to understand that you are under no obligation to provide the other driver’s insurance company with a statement.
Your statement can potentially be used against you, especially if there are inconsistencies between the recorded statement and previous statements made to law enforcement or in a deposition. Insurance adjusters are skilled interviewers and may employ tactics to elicit responses that may ultimately hurt your claim. They have every incentive to get you to say something that will potentially hurt your claim and reduce what you are able to recover for the damages you’ve suffered. Insurance companies are not in the business of helping you. They are in the business of making a profit. And, this gives them plenty of impetus to diminish the value of your claim, so that they pay out less and profit more.
When Your Insurance Company Requests a Statement
If your insurance company requests a recorded statement, your policy might stipulate compliance. However, it is appropriate to ask the insurance adjuster to point out the specific language in the contract requiring this. And, you should do just that. Remember, even your insurance company is looking to minimize claim payouts, and your recorded statement can be used to justify their decisions. While your insurance company will seek to establish that you are not at fault or only partially at fault, your insurance company is not on your side, despite what they may want you to believe. And, it may likely be best to let an accident attorney communicate to the insurance company for you or guide you on what you should say, especially if you or a loved one has been injured in an motor vehicle or pedestrian accident. In these cases, insurance companies are much more likely to use tactics designed to limit what they pay to you for compensation in your accident. The more they think they might need to pay out on your claim the more pressure they will use to get you to say something that hurts your case, even if it is not recorded on an audio device, video or other format. Recorded statements are usually provide more convincing evidence, but any statement at all can alter the value of your claim. And, if you say something that can be used to that effect, it will be recorded in the notes regarding your case by the adjuster. Consulting with an auto accident lawyer before speaking to an insurance adjuster for either party’s auto insurance is generally a good idea no matter if you are being asked to provide a statement or not. You will be better prepared to deal with any attempts to diminish the value of the damages in your claim. And, in the case of injury accidents, it is completely acceptable to inform your insurance company that you will communicate with them regarding any injuries after you have completed treatment for those injuries, as you don’t yet know your recovery will go, and you are relying on a qualified doctor to determine the nature of your injuries. There is no way to determine the value of your claim until you know what your injuries have cost you. So, there is no reason to communicate with any insurance company until you are fully recovered. And, insurance companies won’t pay you a cent more than what they think a jury might make them pay. Adjusters may pressure you or try to convince you to close your claim early because if they complete the claims process prior to the completion of medical treatment, they can usually pay out less because the total cost of your injuries is unknown at that time. Once you sign a settlement, there is no turning back, even if you injuries worsen after the fact.
Always remember than no matter what you are told or what is requested of you by an insurance company, their goal is not to maximize your compensation on any claim. They have one core goal: maximize profit. You are nothing more than a number.
Interacting with the Other Party’s Insurance Company
In general, it’s advisable to refrain from giving a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance provider. Their primary objective is to secure a statement proving you were at fault in the accident, and in most cases, you have no legal obligation to oblige.
If an adjuster from a company that does not provide you coverage tries to contact you, inform your attorney immediately. Politely decline their request for a recorded statement and stick to providing only basic information: your name, address, phone number, and occupation.
Interacting with Law Enforcement and Other Third Parties
In some cases you may be contacted by other parties with interest in your claim. This might include cases with multiple insurers or commercial vehicle operators that owned one of the vehicles involved. You will want to make sure you clarify who exactly who is inquiring and for what purpose, if you are contacted by a party other than an insurer. This will help you avoid confusion. And, if you have a attorney, you can direct them to contact your attorney. The only party you should communicate with before speaking to a lawyer is the officer or the law enforcement agency that is tasked with reporting on your accident.
The Element of Fault in an Accident
No matter what you do, you should never admit fault in an accident to anyone, because you may be wrong for reasons of which you are unaware. Ultimately, it is up to a judge and jury to determine fault. So, what you believe about the accident or your fault is better left unsaid to anyone but your lawyer. In the end, it’s not your decision. And prior to or outside of a court’s determination, fault is best evaluated by a qualified lawyer. At no time, under any circumstances should you express or imply that you were at fault even if your police or accident report states that you were at fault. Surprisingly, not even a police report can legally establish or determine fault. It can only be decided by a court of law. A police report is a document that contains the opinions of the reporting official or the police. It can have errors or be factually incorrect, and it does not provide the ultimate determination of fault. A judge can actually reject a police report as evidence in a lawsuit, and in this case, the jury will never see it, nor can they factor a police report that is deemed inadmissible by a judge. If a court does not determine fault in your case, there is no legally binding or official record or determination of fault at all. In essence there is only opinion or conjecture in the matter of fault if no jury has determined with whom fault lies.
Pitfalls of Providing Recorded Statements
Recorded statements can be seriously problematic. Insurance companies often scrutinize these statements, searching for loopholes and weak spots to justify an unreasonably low settlement offer. Here are some factors that can make your recorded statement susceptible to misuse:
- Inexact Language: Insurance adjusters may use confusing language and misleading questions to trap an accident victim into saying something they don’t really mean or are unsure about.
- Inability to Focus: Post-accident trauma can leave victims confused, disoriented, emotional, and upset, which can impact the accuracy of their statement.
- Lack of Knowledge about Injuries: In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you may not be in a position to give an accurate report of your injuries. This can be detrimental if your injuries worsen over time.
The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer
The challenges of dealing with recorded statements and and insurance companies in general sometimes make it vital to have a competent legal professional in your corner. A skilled personal injury attorney can protect you from making damaging statements or submitting information that may harm your claim. They can help you draft a statement that meets the insurer’s needs without compromising your claim.
Finding the Right Legal Help
Choosing the right lawyer is the best way to protect your interests and maximize your compensation. A good attorney will fight for what you’re entitled to under the law and ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of by insurance companies. A lawyer should be willing to go the extra mile to guarantee that your case is treated with the dignity and care it deserves.
Whenever you’re involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, remember that the healing process comes first. A dedicated legal professional can handle the complexities of insurance dealings, allowing you to focus on what’s truly important – your recovery.
In the end, always remember that any accident, be it a motor vehicle or pedestrian accident, is a significant event that should be handled with great care. The legal aspects of dealing with insurance companies and adjusters can be complex and confusing, and having an experienced auto accident attorney on your side can make all the difference. If you have questions, about anything related to dealing with an insurance company after an auto, truck, motorcycle or pedestrian accident, you should not hesitate to contact an attorney. Most accident attorneys provide a free case analysis, and they can guide you based on the specifics of your claim. Getting sound advice before speaking with anyone about your case is in your best interest. If you were injured in an accident you will likely benefit from speaking to a personal injury attorney that handles motor vehicle and pedestrian accident claims. And, chances are, you will need an attorney to get fair compensation if you have suffered serious injuries.
Tim received a business degree in finance from Southern Methodist University and a Juris Doctor (law degree) from South Texas College of Law. Over the last two decades Tim has represented victims of injuries day-in and day-out throughout the state of Texas as well as in numerous other states throughout America. Tim’s mission on every case is always to get the insurance company of the defendant to pay top dollar for his client’s case, which allows his clients to put the maximum amount of money into their pocket.