As soon as an accident is reported to an insurance company, an insurance adjuster will usually seek to obtain a recorded statement from the injured party. The adjuster may state that he or she wants to hear your side of the story, is simply trying to confirm liability or that the statement is required before he or she can pay money to settle the claim. Be aware that anything you say in a recorded statement can be used against you, even though you are not in court or under oath. Whether to provide a statement depends on who is asking for it.
If your own insurance company requests a recorded statement, you likely will be required to provide it. This is because most insurance policies have a “duty to cooperate” provision. If you fail to cooperate with your own insurance company, you risk a denial of any claim you might make against your insurance company. However, be aware that even though you are dealing with your own insurance company, the insurance company could take a position that is adverse to you. Thus, you should think carefully about each and every fact that you relate in a statement to your insurance company and never volunteer any information.
On the other hand, you have absolutely no obligation to provide a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company. One of the most frustrating situations for an attorney is when a client has already provided a recorded statement to an insurance company before speaking to the attorney. Why? First, if there are any inconsistencies in the statement given shortly after the accident and information provided at a later date, the insurance company may use it to attempt to show that you are a liar. For instance, you may not know the full extent of your injuries immediately following the accident, but the adjuster will try to nail down your injuries so that, if you later assert a different or more serious injury, he or she can argue that it is unrelated or you would have initially reported it. Second, an insurance adjuster knows how to ask certain questions to trick you into saying something that is inaccurate which may later be used against you. The insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible, so an adjuster will often employ questionable tactics toward accomplishing that goal. Finally, if you make a mistake in describing the accident, or use imprecise language, the insurance adjuster may be able to use your own words against you. Even minor discrepancies in what you say or what you remember may have a devastating impact on your case.
The bottom line is that you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company representative without the advice and guidance of an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys will review your insurance policy for free to determine if it contains a duty to cooperate provision. If you have been injured in an accident and contacted by an insurance company representative for your recorded statement, contact Bass Law to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with Attorney Dondra Bass O’Neal. You may contact us directly through this website or by calling 912-344-4294.