The insurance company is requesting a recorded statement? Should I give them one?

We generally recommend against giving a recorded statement to an insurance company, at least not without first contacting an attorney to see whether that is advisable. The concern is that you might misspeak or say something incorrectly without meaning to do so, and that your words would be twisted around to the insurance company's benefit. It is important to keep in mind that insurance company adjusters have one overriding goal: to save the company money. One of the better ways they have found to save their employer money is to get someone who is injured in an accident to make admissions that can be used against them later. They usually try to get these admissions shortly after the accident at a time when the shock has not worn off, you have not been sleeping well due to pain, and/or you are on medications that effect your ability to think and remember clearly.

For example, one of our clients nearly lost her ability to bring her claim because of what she told an insurance adjuster shortly after a motor vehicle accident she was in. Before contacting our firm, our client had been in the hospital for three days recovering from her injuries. When she returned home, she was contacted by the other driver's insurance company and gave a recorded statement. During her discussion with the insurance company adjuster, the adjuster repeatedly suggested to her that it was “just an accident that could have happened to anyone” and that no one was at fault. Toward the end of the questioning, our client made a comment to the effect that she didn't know who was at fault for the accident—or whether anyone was at fault. The insurance company, in turn, used this comment as justification for denying payment of our client's medical expenses, lost income, etc. After being stonewalled by the insurance company, she contacted our office for assistance. When we learned that she had given a statement to the insurance company, we immediately requested a copy which, upon review, revealed our client's harmful admission, as well as some other problematic, but less harmful statements.

In investigating the case, we determined that (1) our client was not aware of many important pieces of evidence about how the accident happened that were relevant to the issue of fault, and (2) the insurance adjuster misrepresented information about how the accident happened in his effort to persuade our client that the accident was not the other driver's fault. Using the evidence we gathered, we argued to the insurance company that our client's statements were based on inaccurate and incomplete information and that the evidence from the accident scene—as well as eye witness accounts from third parties—demonstrated that the other driver was at fault and not our client. This evidence and our argument persuaded the insurance company to reverse its position and ultimately settle the case.

Although we were able to repair the “damage” in this instance, we have seen many other cases over the years where a client's inadvertent, but very harmful admissions to an insurance adjuster have been fatal to their cases or resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of compensation they would have otherwise received. For these reasons, it is always advisable to contact an attorney for a free consultation discuss whether you should give a statement and any other issues/concerns you may have.

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