In the days following a car accident, you can expect the other party’s insurance adjuster to contact you by phone and request that you provide them with a recorded statement.
You should always decline this request.
It doesn’t matter if you only plan to tell the truth or if you feel that you have nothing to hide. Both of those may be true, but that doesn’t change the fact that the insurance adjuster has one goal, and that’s to minimize the amount that their insurance company has to pay. They’re not your friend, they don’t want to help you and they aren’t simply trying to uncover the truth about what happened.
When you provide a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance adjuster, there are two possible outcomes:
1. The insurance adjuster isn’t able to use anything against you, so they don’t use your statement at all.
2. The insurance adjuster finds a way to use your recorded statement against you, weakening your claim and possibly leading to reduced compensation or even your claim being dismissed.
The latter situation is far more likely, and as you may have also noticed, neither of these outcomes benefit you at all.
Why is it likely that the insurance adjuster will be able to use your recorded statement against you? There are several ways that your recorded statement can harm your case.
The insurance adjuster will compare your recorded statement with any other statements you’ve made on record, such as things that you said to a police officer on the scene or doctors in the emergency room, if you were injured. If they find any inconsistencies, they can use them against you by claiming you fabricated events. You will no longer be considered trustworthy. One area where this often occurs is with injury claims. You may not notice an injury right away, especially after you’ve been in a car accident. Adrenaline can mask the pain, and it may take a day or more before you feel the symptoms of an injury that occurred during your car accident. This doesn’t make your injury claim any less valid, but the other party’s insurance adjuster will use it against you, claiming that you fabricated an injury since you didn’t mention it at the scene of the accident.
If your case goes to trial, the defense will have your recorded statement and will use that against you during cross-examination. You may not remember exactly what you said in that recorded statement, and an experienced defense attorney can often find ways to get you to contradict yourself. Again, this will make you look untrustworthy.
Experienced insurance adjusters also know what to say and what to ask to trick you into harming your own case. They may push you for answers, or convince you to agree to something that isn’t entirely accurate. They may try to slip in a quick, nonchalant statement such as “It sounds like you were going pretty fast.” If you say “I guess” or any other statement that confirms what they just said, that could come back to bite you.
A far less common scenario is your own insurance company asking you to provide a recorded statement. If they do, you will most likely need to provide one for your insurance company to continue paying for any damages that you incurred during the accident.
You should request that before you give any recorded statement, your insurance company says in writing that they won’t share it with the other party’s insurance company. They should be more than willing to do this, as they’re supposed to be fighting for you, not providing evidence to the other side. You can also ask to provide a written statement instead of a recorded statement, which could be easier for you to provide.
It’s always smart to consult with a lawyer when you’ve been in an accident, and that’s especially true if the other party’s insurance adjuster or your own insurance company is requesting that you make a recorded statement. Your lawyer can advise you on when you should and shouldn’t provide a recorded statement, along with what you should and shouldn’t say.
If you end up providing your own insurance company with a recorded statement, write an outline of the events that occurred before you give your statement, so you remember the important points and don’t get off track. Make sure that you stick to the facts.