After an automobile accident, the insurance company for the other party will probably call you and ask you to give a recorded statement. As a general rule, I am not in favor of giving these kinds of statements, especially so early on in the case. The sad truth is that the insurance adjuster doesn’t really have your best interests at heart. They will generally sound very sympathetic and express their desire to help you in any way possible. They will try to encourage you to give them a recorded statement, sometimes only a day or two after the accident has occurred. In many cases, they are trying to box you into a story.
In some cases, the insurance adjuster will try to use your statements against you. They can easily get the police report and find out what happened so there is really no pressing need to speak to you. Keep in mind you may not yet fully appreciate the extent of your injuries so soon after an accident. If you don't report injury (the existence of an injury or the extent of an injury) then a later claim of injury may appear contradictory to your earlier statement. Some insurance companies actually have a policy that any information gained from the recorded statement can be used later to deny the claim or pay out less than the claim actually deserves. As the old saying goes, "anything you say can be used against you."
I usually tell my clients not to panic. There is no “fire in the barn” or other emergency that makes it necessary to give a statement so early on in the case. I tell my clients to politely decline and tell the adjuster that you will call them when you are prepared to give a statement. There is no need to get into an argument with the adjuster. If you have a lawyer, then you don’t need to speak to anyone at all and your attorney will handle it.
I spent much of my career as a defense attorney for the insurance companies. In my years of experience (as a defense lawyer and plaintiff's lawyer), I have rarely found it to be helpful to give a statement to the opposing party’s insurance company so early on in the case. Your first order of priority is protecting your interests and making sure that you get the medical care that you need.
There are times when giving a statement is necessary or prudent. If you are talking with your own company, then you probably have to cooperate with them. They are usually on your side as they have a duty to you that the other insurance company simply doesn't have. However, you should still be careful what you say as it may come back to haunt you. Speak to an experienced lawyer first. You have nothing to lose. Learn what your rights are first before you make a decision to speak with the insurance adjuster.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.