Should I Give a Recorded Statement About My Car Accident if Requested by a Claims Adjuster?
It is generally a bad idea to give a recorded statement to a claims adjuster after a car accident before speaking with an attorney.
When you agree to a recorded conversation with a claims adjuster, you leave yourself open to having your statements used against you in court or the settlement negotiation process. Insurance adjusters may have strategies to elicit comments that unfairly weaken your case.
When the Insurance Company Calls, Be Careful What You Say
Consider a typical scenario. You get into a car accident. The other driver was clearly at fault. You suffer injuries and receive treatment at a nearby hospital.
A few days later, while you are at home recovering from your injuries, an adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company calls and asks if you have a few minutes to talk. You say yes, and the adjuster explains that the reason for the call is to “expedite” the claim process to get you paid faster and “confirm” that their policyholder was indeed at fault.
They say that all they need is for you to answer a few questions about what happened the day of the accident, and, by the way, to ensure no confusion, the call will be recorded.
It Is Not Straightforward
It all sounds straightforward, and the adjuster genuinely sounds as if their sole intention is to make sure the process goes smoothly for you. What could be wrong with giving them a statement of what happened?
The answer: Quite a bit.
Although the person on the phone might seem to have the best of intentions—and might truly believe they are calling to help—the fact is that many insurance companies are profit-maximizing enterprises, and there are only two ways to maximize profits: increase revenues or decrease costs. Money insurance companies pay out to accident victims represents a cost to an insurance company. Therefore, it wants to minimize its payouts whenever possible. One way it does this is by finding reasons to reduce or deny claims.
Giving a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Adjuster: What Could Go Wrong?
When you are speaking with your friends or family about your injuries, you might use language that is imprecise. However, an insurance adjuster could use this against you. For example, assume that your knee is injured in a car accident and that it limits your ability to leave the house because of pain. However, you push yourself to get to doctor appointments using crutches. You might tell your friends in casual conversation that you “never get out of the house” because of your injured knee. However, that is not precisely accurate. What you mean is that you are not able to engage in many of your usual activities and that you are limited in your ability to leave your home except for doctor appointments. If you tell an insurance adjuster that you “never leave the house”, the adjuster may have an investigator video tape you on surveillance attending doctor appointments and accuse you of lying. This is a simple, yet powerful, example of the types of issues that an experienced attorney can help you identify.
What You Say Can Be Used Against You
The insurance company may use your recorded statement against you. Using our example from above, you can count on the adjuster using the surveillance video of you attending a doctor appointment and your recorded statement that you never leave the house to call your credibility into question.
Do I Have to Cooperate With My Own Insurance Company?
Most insurance policies require the policyholder to cooperate with the insurance company by providing statements upon request. If you are represented by an experienced car accident lawyer, your lawyer can advise you on your rights and responsibilities under your policy.