If you have been involved in an accident and file a personal injury claim, one of the first things that is likely to happen is you will be contacted by an insurance adjuster. They will ask you to give a recorded statement. Not all attorneys agree on the wisdom of giving these statements. To a great extent, how they will advise you to handle the situation will depend on the complexity of your claim and how your lawyer perceives its likely outcome.
There are a variety of reasons why insurance companies like getting these statements, and it is nothing to panic over, but in many cases, this can be a key point that will have a profound effect on your claim as it moves forward.
Reasons an insurance adjuster may want to record your statement:
- The adjuster just wants a complete picture of how the accident occurred.
- The adjuster wants to verify what injuries occurred and how.
- The adjuster wants to minimize the company’s liability.
- The adjuster is hoping to trip you up and get you to damage your own case.
The last two reasons on this list are what will most concern your attorney. Some adjusters can be very friendly and sympathetic, and others can be downright combative. However, regardless of the tactics they employ, they work for THE COMPANY.
They are trained to ask leading, or in some cases misleading, questions which may sound innocent enough but are designed to deliver predetermined answers.
Why Would You Give a Statement?
So, knowing all this, why would you consent to give a recorded statement? If yours is a simple claim for minimal damages and little likelihood of progressing to a lawsuit, giving a statement can allow your claim to be settled much faster.
Why Wouldn’t You?
Even if yours is a simple claim, you should be careful about what information you give out and how you word your answers. You should stick to the bare minimum of conversation and state the facts as simply as possible.
Adjusters are masters of finding small bits of information that can save the company money. Never allow the conversation to delve into personal issues. Statements like, “This happened at a really bad time” or “I can’t believe my run of bad luck” can lead to the adjuster thinking you might take a smaller settlement because you really need the money. Even worse, you might inadvertently say something that will create mitigating circumstances and lower the liability for the accident. “I was just driving along singing with the radio” tells an insurance adjuster that you were not completely focused on driving. Instantly you become a distracted driver and take on partial responsibility for your own injury.
Remember, for them, this is business and nothing else.
You are under no legal obligation to give a recorded statement. Even in simple claims it is often a better choice to tell the adjuster that you will send in a written stamen instead. With more complex cases, especially those that are likely to progress to arbitration or court, it is never a good idea to give any statement unless guided by your attorney.
You will, most likely, have to give a deposition in these cases, and the last thing you or your attorney will want is to have more than one statement on the records. Any discrepancies between the two, no matter how small, could be used to attack your credibility and that of your case in general.
Back to our original question: Should you give a recorded statement in a personal injury claim? In the majority of cases, the answer is a resounding no. Even with a simple claim that should be settled without any major issues, it’s better to volunteer a written statement instead and have it reviewed by your personal injury attorney before submitting it. With more complex claims that are likely to become court cases, mum’s the word.