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However, if the responsible party's insurance company calls to ask for a recorded statement from you, it might seem like a reasonable request. The agent will likely say they're trying to sort through the facts about the accident. However, since their end goal is to minimize their responsibility for your injuries and therefore the amount they pay out, giving a statement can be a slippery slope and one that is best avoided.
The adjuster—who has been trained in taking such statements―will present the request in a friendly, casual manner, making you think it's no big deal. And from your perspective, you may think that cooperating with them will help get your claim processed faster. So, should you give a recorded statement?
As experienced Richmond personal injury attorneys, we advise against doing so, because there are so many different ways that a recorded statement could be used against you if your case ends up in court. You have no legal obligation to give a statement to an insurance company that isn't your own, and any adjuster who tells you that you must do so isn't telling the truth.
Here are five reasons giving a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster is a bad idea:
- Your recorded statement can and likely will be used against you and your case. In that sense, it's similar to a police interrogation when "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." A recorded statement is rarely a benefit to an injured party. Because any statement – recorded or not – may have a significant impact on your claim, we highly recommend that you consult an attorney before you consider providing one. Your lawyer will make you fully aware of your legal rights and point out factors that could affect a potential future lawsuit.
- Because the extent of your injuries may not yet be fully apparent. When you're in an accident, the resulting adrenaline surge can delay the full appearance of symptoms or mask the severity of your injuries for several days. However, the insurance company wants to rush to settlement to avoid a lengthy process and may contact you within 24 hours of the accident to ask you to describe your injuries. It's best to focus on the property damage at this early stage.
- Insurance companies will compare your statement with other statements you've made. Shortly after an accident occurs, you'll give a statement to the police, even though you may still feel rattled. If you move forward with a lawsuit, you will give a deposition to opposing counsel about the accident and events surrounding it. If you also provide a recorded statement to the opposing insurance company, all three statements can be compared for inconsistencies. Even if you didn't intentionally tell a different version of the story, with three different statements given at different times, it may be easier for the opposing insurance company to find even a small inconsistency, which could hurt your case.
- Insurance adjusters can trick you into giving responses that negatively impact your case ― and you likely won't realize it's happening. The adjuster has likely conducted hundreds of interviews and knows exactly how to word certain questions to get a response that can help them deny responsibility for your injuries. For example, if they are extremely pushy about a certain aspect of the accident, repeatedly asking the same question and out of frustration you eventually respond, "Maybe" or "I guess so" just to get them off your back, it's on the record and that response can be used against you in court.
- Your recording could be used in court. Even if you think you will sound perfectly logical and polite, something you say could come back to haunt you. In addition, you may be on painkillers for your injuries, which could cause you to slur your words or remember the accident in a slightly different way. An inconsequential discrepancy can become the key to discrediting your entire testimony.
The exception to this rule is when your own insurance company asks you to provide a recorded statement. You may be obligated to do so if requested. And while your own insurance company is arguably on your side, there are situations where your words could still be used against you if the insurance company's position becomes one that is opposite of your best interests. Once a statement is recorded, it can't be changed.
If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.