After a car accident, the insurance company will want to know the details of the accident. A claims adjuster will contact you to take a statement. This usually happens a few days after the accident, which is often a terrible time to make any statements especially if you’ve been injured and are taking pain medicine. While giving a statement might speed up the claim process, it might result in a problem with the claim if you’re not careful.
Why Does the Insurance Company Want a Recorded Statement?
When an adjuster calls to get a recorded statement, they’ll want to hear your version of events. At this point, the adjuster will only have the version of the person they insure. He or she will use your statement, police reports, the statement of the insured as well as witness reports to build a better picture of what happened in the accident.
There are some adjusters who are pleasant and friendly to deal with, and others who are rude and gruff, but they are all doing their job, which is to find a reason to not validate your claim.
Whether rude or friendly, if the claims adjuster can get you to contradict a statement you’ve made previously, they can claim that you’re lying. Any statements you make verbally or in writing become a part of the file.
Reasons You Shouldn’t Give One
If you’ve filed a lawsuit against the adjuster’s insured driver, you’ll want to be especially careful about recorded statements. The adjuster is looking for a way to lessen the impact of your suit against the insurance company. They’re skilled at asking questions to elicit contradictory statements. While you might see an innocent question when they ask what you were doing that day, they are trying to find fault. If you were coming from a bad day at work, they might try to say that you were distracted.
Many lawyers would advise you to give a written statement regarding the events. You’ll be able to prepare this ahead of time and consider your words carefully.
Parts of a Recorded Statement
In a recorded statement, the adjuster will call and introduce himself and state why he’s calling you. At this point, he’ll ask to take your recorded statement. The recording device will be turned on and the adjuster will state his name for the record, the date of the accident and the claim number. He’ll ask for permission on the record now.
Watch Your Words
The adjuster will let you tell the story in your own words without interruption. Occasionally, the adjuster might have questions. She’ll stop and ask you those questions, which might be geared towards minimizing the claim you have. There are some really sneaky adjusters who will seem incredibly friendly, but will say things like, “Wow, you’re lucky the neck injury wasn’t as bad as you first thought.” When you agree with that statement, they’ve established that the neck injury wasn’t bad.
Never volunteer facts about your life. For example, you might say something innocent about having a hard time at work. Once the claims adjuster links the fact that you were coming from work at the time of the accident, they’ve potentially increased your liability in the cause of the accident.
Prepare Ahead of Time
If you choose to give a recorded statement with or without the presence of your lawyer, make sure you’ve outlined the facts before the phone call. It’ll help you remember the details exactly and keep you from straying into dangerous waters.
You don’t need to read from a script you’ve detailed ahead of time, but you can use it to jog your memory and keep you on track. Write down all the events in the order they happened, which can be hard to remember after the accident. You can politely decline to answer personal questions from the adjuster.
Have a recorder handy to make your own recording. Tell the adjuster that you’ll be recording too. You can also ask for a copy of the recording they’re making.
Do You Have to Cooperate with the Insurance Company’s Request?
You might be wondering if you can refuse to issue a statement. While you can refuse to give a taped or recorded statement over the phone, you should give a statement to the adjuster. You have every right to prepare a detailed written statement. Have a lawyer go over it with you to ensure nothing can be misconstrued.
Contact a lawyer to get advice on how to prepare your statement, or consult with one after you’ve already given a recorded statement to the adjuster. They’ll be able to help you proceed with the case.