What should I say in a recorded statement after a car accident?

If we’re talking about discussions with your own car insurance carrier, you do have a legal obligation to co-operate as the adjuster investigates the accident and processes your claim.

Question:

What should I say in a recorded statement after a car accident?

Answer:

Before we address what you should say in a recorded statement after a car accident, let’s take a step back and discuss whether you should be making and whether you’re legally obligated to make -- that recorded statement in the first place.

If we’re talking about discussions with your own car insurance carrier, you do have a legal obligation to co-operate as the adjuster investigates the accident and processes your claim. That obligation usually extends to giving a recorded statement and providing other information that is asked for during the adjuster interview.

But if the other side is asking for a recorded statement, you don’t need to give one, and you probably shouldn’t. There are a number of reasons why giving a recorded statement to the other side -- which means the insurance company for the other driver, or his or her attorney -- is not the best idea. In a nutshell, making a recorded statement can’t help your case, only theirs.

First, you can be sure that the other side will compare any recorded statement you make with any other statements you’ve made about the accident (in the police report, for example) and any statements you make in the future (such as during a deposition). They’ll try to exploit even the smallest inconsistencies to poke holes in your case.

Second, the adjuster for the other side knows how to frame questions in ways that can lead you to make a potentially incriminating statement, or at least cause you to paint yourself into a corner. For example, the adjuster might ask how long the stoplight was on yellow when you entered the intersection, and whether you saw it turn to red. When you say that you did not see the signal turn to red, the adjuster may try to frame that response as an indication that you were simply not paying attention.

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