After an accident occurs, the insurance company for the negligent driver will start an investigation into the facts surrounding the collision. More often than not, the insurance adjuster will contact you and request a recorded statement. It is important to note: you are not required to give a recorded statement and the insurance adjuster cannot deny your claim on the sole basis that you refuse to give a recorded statement. We always advise our clients to never give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. There can be a variety of complicating issues that may hurt you by giving a statement. Consider this: you’ve been in an accident and received injuries. You are in pain. You are taking medications that make you drowsy. You are worried and stressed about how you are going to get your car fixed. And then an insurance adjuster calls you and wants to take your recorded statement. Do you think it is a good idea to do that? Probably not. We have seen even the sharpest witted clients give statements that later come back to hurt their case in the end.
Here’s another scenario: you are in an accident and you have a broken leg and a neck injury. The adjuster calls you the day after the accident and you give a recorded statement. Because your broken leg is quite painful, you may not mention that your neck is hurting. Fast forward a few months down the road. Your leg has healed but your neck has not, and now you need surgery. Sorry… but the insurance company says they are denying your neck claim because you didn’t mention it in that original recorded statement.
There are some exceptions where we will allow statements:
- When the insurance adjuster will also set up their insured driver to allow us to take a recorded statement
- Allowing an “unrecorded” statement in the presence of the attorney
In the end though, it is your decision whether or not to give the statement. If you do, here are some helpful tips to give your statement in the safest way possible:
- First, request that the statement be “unrecorded”. Again, there is no rule or law requiring you to submit to any type of statement (except to your own insurance carrier – ** see below).
- Do not ramble.
- Do not volunteer information.
- Do not explain unless asked to, then do so briefly.
- Do not argue.
- Do not justify.
- Do not answer questions that you don’t understand,
- Do not guess at answers, especially dates, times, distances, speeds, etc.
- If you don’t know, say so.
- If you are not exactly sure about an answer, say so.
- If you can’t estimate, don’t.
- Do not use words that have an absolute meaning, such as “never” and “always”.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Tell the truth.
- Do not answer a question unless you clearly understand what is being asked.
- If you have to take a guess, make sure it is an educated guess. Also qualify your answer by letting the adjuster know that it is only a guess.
- Always ask for a copy of your recorded statement. Sometimes when the insurance company transcribes the recording, they will mistype something. You want to be able to review the statement for accuracy.
- Do not admit to any type of fault
- Have a witness present when you are speaking with the adjuster
- Take your own notes as to what is being asked and said
- Do not sign anything unless a qualified attorney has reviewed it
- Do not accept settlements – beware of Quick Hit Squads
** There is a circumstance whereby you will need to give a recorded statement to an insurance company, and that is when you are dealing with your own insurance company. Under the terms of your automobile insurance policy, you are required to submit to a recorded statement if they so request. You should follow the advice given above, and if you have an attorney representing you, that attorney will want to be present as well to help further protect you.