If another driver caused your injuries in a car accident, a claims file will be opened by his or her insurance company once the incident is reported. An adjuster is assigned to investigate your potential claim, and will contact you as part of his investigation.
You may even receive a call from the adjuster while you're in the hospital. One common request from him or her is for you give a recorded statement. A recorded statement is a question and answer session conducted by the insurance adjuster with an accident victim either over the telephone or in person. The recorded conversation is later transcribed into a written document.
The adjuster may ask general questions about the victim's employment, educational level, and marital status as well as questions about the accident and the individual's resulting injuries.
Why You Should Decline to Give a Recorded Statement
While the insurance adjuster may try to convince you that giving a recorded statement will help speed up your claim, the reality is this is not usually true. In fact, many accident victims discover later that agreeing to give a recorded statement did exactly the opposite and slowed down or caused problems with their claims process.
Here are reasons you don't want to agree to give a recorded statement:
- Not required. It's important to remember that you're not required to give a recorded statement to settle your claim.
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster has a duty to his company to investigate your claim before agreeing to a settlement. And it's his job to raise any disputes during this process in order to reduce or deny your claim. One way he can do this is to compare the statements you make in a recorded statement to others you gave to police, a doctor, and witnesses. If your statements are inconsistent for any reason, he could use this information to try to deny your claim.
- Answers you didn’t mean. If there's a chance you're confused about the details of your accident due to your injuries, or simply misunderstood an adjuster's question, your responses may still be used against your claim.
- Use of answers in litigation. Any part of your recorded statement can be used against you at court hearings or at trial. This may impact your right to compensation.
Preparing for the claims process is one reason why it's important to secure the help of an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the incident. This allows you to politely decline to participate in a recorded statement and direct all communications and negotiations with the insurance company to your attorney.
Have You Ruined Your Case by Giving a Recorded Statement?
Fortunately, it's unlikely that you ruined your case if you gave a recorded statement. Many victims of car accidents have and still settled their claim. However, it's possible that an adjuster used your responses to reduce the claim's value.
If you provided a statement, it's helpful to review it during the claims process, but it's unlikely that the adjuster will give you a copy voluntarily. This is another reason why having an experienced attorney on your side helps your case. He can obtain a copy and evaluate your statements and how they may affect your settlement.
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision, we urge you to quickly retain an experienced attorney to investigate your claim, communicate with the insurance company, and negotiate your settlement. To learn why we're the right attorneys for you, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.