When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s a safe bet that the other driver’s insurance adjuster will ask you to make a recorded statement to them about the accident. Many drivers don’t think twice about this, as it seems like a reasonable request. This is a big mistake though, as you should never make a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance adjuster.
Making a recorded statement is a classic no-win situation. There are all kinds of ways that it can hurt you, and none where it can help you. The other driver’s insurance adjuster is not an impartial party, as his goal is not a fair resolution. His goal is to save money for the insurance company that he represents. He does that by representing his company’s driver the same way a lawyer would represent a defendant – by presenting only the evidence in support of his client and none of the evidence against that client. Anything you say in the recorded statement that helps your claim won’t make a difference. The only thing the insurance adjuster will do is look for pieces of that statement that he can use against you to either dismiss your claim entirely or pin as much fault for the accident on you as possible.
Of course, every driver thinks “I’m only going to tell the truth, so I’ll be fine.” But you’re not just making one statement when you provide a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster. You’re having a conversation with the adjuster, which means he will be asking questions and making the occasional comment of his own. And since he is trying to weaken your claim, he’ll be asking questions and making comments designed to give him evidence against you. Remember that the adjuster is much more experienced in these types of situations than you are. The average person will get in a few car accidents over the course of his life, which means you probably won’t even talk to an insurance adjuster every year. An insurance adjuster talks to drivers and takes recorded statements all the time, and if he wasn’t good at getting the evidence he needed, he wouldn’t keep his job for very long.
So, the first potential problem with making a recorded statement is that you open yourself up to the possibility of saying something that allows the adjuster to pin some of the fault on you. Maybe you accidentally agree that you were speeding, or you admit that you didn’t see something important. Even if you don’t do this, the adjuster will then take your recorded statement and compare it to any other statements you made on record, such as comments to police or medical personnel. If he finds any inconsistencies, he can paint you as unreliable. Inconsistencies in stories, particularly when you’re telling them weeks or months apart, are common and they don’t mean that you’re lying. However, they can still damage your claim.
If your case goes to court, the defense attorney will be able to use your recorded statement when cross examining you. Again, the goal will be to find an inconsistency or a contradiction between what you say on the stand and a recorded statement that you made months beforehand. If that happens, you are once again seen as an unreliable witness, which significantly weakens your claim.
As you can see, there’s nothing to gain by making a recorded statement, but it could easily come back to bite you. The best thing you can do after a car accident is get a lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer can advise you on what you should and shouldn’t do, and will likely tell you that it’s not in your best interest to make a recorded statement. Another benefit of having a lawyer to represent you is that your lawyer can then talk to the insurance adjuster on your behalf. While you can provide evidence against yourself if you slip up, your lawyer cannot, because he wasn’t at the scene of the accident. Anything he says to the insurance adjuster can’t be used as evidence against you.