In car accident cases especially, insurance companies like to take the recorded statement of people who are injured -- you, another driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. But if you are the one making an injury claim, and the other side’s insurance adjuster or investigator wants to take your recorded statement, you should be very wary of allowing it. Read on to learn more.
To borrow the line from old television crime shows, if you give a recorded statement to the defendant’s insurer, everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You might think, "Well, the statement isn’t under oath, so it’s no big deal." After all, you aren’t in a courtroom and there is no court reporter taking down your words. You’re just having a normal conversation that is being recorded. That may be true, but, in personal injury litigation, the statement of the plaintiff need not be under oath in order to be used against him/her.
Bottom line: Whatever you say to the insurer, however formally or informally, can be used against you in your personal injury case.
Moreover, if you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster or investigator, you are totally outgunned. You are just a regular person trying to give an honest statement, but you can rest assured that whoever is taking the statement is a complete pro in taking statements. Whoever is taking your statement will have two goals: 1) to find out what your story is, and 2) to see if he/she can twist your words around to make you look bad.
In personal injury cases, there is no law in any state that requires the injured person to give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the driver who is potentially at fault.
You generally have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company, although not with the other driver’s insurance company. Each state’s law may be different with respect to what it means to cooperate with your own insurer.
If you get into a car accident in one of the dozen or so no fault states, and your own insurance company demands that you give it a recorded statement before it will pay you benefits, it may have a right to the statement depending on state law. For further information about whether your state’s no fault laws require you to give your own insurer a recorded statement after a car accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in your state.
The short answer is no. Giving an insurer a recorded statement in a personal injury case will almost never help an unrepresented injured person’s case. All giving a statement to the insurer does is give the insurer more information with which to defend the case, refuse the claim outright, or come up with a lowball settlement offer.
But what if the adjuster tells me that, if I give the statement, it will help my case? The adjuster is not telling you the truth. If the insurer feels that it needs your recorded statement to help it figure out what is going on in the case, it doesn’t like the case, and is not going to help you out simply because you gave the statement.
If you give the statement, the most likely occurrence after giving the statement is that, after some time passes, the adjuster will thank you for giving the statement, but will tell you that, unfortunately, they are unable to settle your personal injury case. Now they have your statement, and you have nothing.