What Is a Recorded Statement for Insurance? Should I Give One?
After being injured in an auto accident, you will almost certainly receive calls from insurers. You should approach these calls with caution, even when speaking to your own insurance provider. In particular, beware when the adjuster on the line asks for your permission to take a recorded statement recounting your version of the accident and its aftermath.
You may be wondering whether you should give a recorded statement at all. In short, you should never give your recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurer. Further, though your own insurer may require that you report your accident and cooperate with their investigation, it is best to let your attorney do most of the talking. In all cases, remember that whatever you say can be used later to undermine your claim.
Should You Make a Recorded Statement After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, you might get a call from an insurance adjuster asking you to make a recorded statement for the company’s records. While this request might seem harmless, you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company without your attorney. A recorded statement could be used against you to either diminish the value of your claim or deny it altogether.
Any discrepancy, missing details, or misrepresentation of the facts can jeopardize your chances of recovering fair compensation for your losses. An insurer can misconstrue something as simple as an apology and take it as an admission of guilt. If an insurer asks you to provide a recorded statement, politely decline. Allow your attorney to communicate with the insurer on your behalf. An attorney can protect your rights and advocate for your best interests.
At Butler Kahn, our skilled legal team is proud to defend the rights of injury victims, including against unscrupulous insurers eager to dismiss legitimate claims. In all cases, we are committed to providing the best possible legal representation to our clients throughout Georgia. If you were injured in an auto accident and are wondering how to handle your insurance claim, contact us today for a free consultation.
Why Do Insurance Companies Want a Recorded Statement?
In the days following an accident, injured victims nearly always receive a call from an insurance adjuster. When they do, chances are they will ask to record your answers to questions meant to aid in their investigation. To that end, they will ask about things like the cause of the accident and the severity of your injuries. While it is true that these questions will aid their investigation, that is only half of the truth. The other half is that insurance adjusters save their companies money by denying as many claims as they can within the limits of the governing policy and law.
The underlying purpose of a recorded statement is to help them achieve this goal. When you agree to provide a recorded statement, the adjuster will document word-for-word everything that you say. They do so knowing that it is much easier to miscommunicate your thoughts in fast-paced, free-flowing dialog than in writing. If you do not choose your words carefully, the adjuster will pick apart the recording to twist them against you down the road.
Am I Required to Provide a Recorded Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurer?
No. You are not legally required to speak to the at-fault party’s insurer at all before securing legal representation. If they call, you should politely decline to comment on the accident and then refer them to your attorney. If they ask for permission to record your conversation, never give it. If they press further, stand your ground by reminding them that you are not legally required to speak to them without your lawyer.
Giving a Statement After a Car Accident: What You Should Know
If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident, you may hear from an insurance claims adjuster who wants to get your recorded statement. You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement. While some people may think that a recorded statement can expedite an investigation and can help both parties reach a fair settlement, that is rarely the case. Giving a recorded statement is not required and is not in your interest. Sometimes insurance companies use recorded statements to jeopardize the claims of legitimate accident victims—all so the company doesn’t have to pay up.
Why Do Insurance Adjusters Want Recorded Statements?
When an adjuster investigates the events that led up to your injury, he or she will likely look for inconsistencies in the statements that several people provide. The more versions of the story they have, the easier it may be to blur the lines of their own liability. It’s important to remember that insurance companies are businesses and they’re focused on making profits. The less money they pay out to claimants, the more money they bring in as profits.
What If My Own Insurer Requests a Recorded Statement?
This scenario requires a more nuanced response. Remember that even your own insurer would prefer to deny your claim than lose money by compensating you for your injuries and losses. However, they must still comply with the contractual duties outlined in the governing insurance policy, and so must you. Read the fine print closely. Insurance policies usually include language requiring you to report covered accidents before a certain deadline passes. Be sure you do not miss it. Further, your policy will require you to cooperate with the insurer’s requests during their investigation, so long as they are reasonable.
If you do not fulfill these requirements, they may claim that you breached the contract and thereby forfeited your policy benefits. On the other hand, you are also entitled to look after your own legal interests, including by letting your attorney handle communication with insurers. Ideally, you will have secured legal representation before you ever hear from an insurer. But if you find yourself in a different situation, you can give your own insurer basic information about the accident, such as the time, place, and name of the at-fault party. However, “cooperation” does not necessarily mean that you must provide a recorded statement just because they request one. If they do, politely let the adjuster know that you have every intention to cooperate but also that you prefer to let your attorney handle further communication on your behalf.
How Should I Handle a Conversation with Insurers?
Having read this far, you now realize the importance of choosing your words carefully when dealing with insurance companies. When the at-fault driver’s insurer calls, simply decline to comment. When your own insurer calls, tread carefully before consulting with a lawyer. This section will go over some tips to help you in the event you receive a call from a tricky adjuster.
- Do not take the call at a bad moment. Instead, take some time to collect yourself. If your insurer adjuster calls and you are busy, it is okay to schedule a callback.
- Get your story straight. Any inconsistency will undermine your credibility and, therefore, your claim. To organize your thoughts, prepare a chronological outline ahead of time.
- Stick to the facts. Lying to insurers processing your claim is illegal. Among other consequences, it may eliminate your right to coverage. Further, avoid speculating or providing unsolicited details, especially about the cause of the accident or the nature of your injuries. If the adjuster asks leading questions, do not take the bait.
- Ask for a transcript. If you end up providing a recorded statement to your insurer, a transcript will serve as an important reference point later.
- Do not underestimate (or exaggerate) your injuries. Instead, let your medical treatment records prepared by your doctors tell the story. The adjuster will probably ask things like, “How are you today?” Avoid answering, “Fine.” Even this simple answer can be decontextualized against you to minimize your injuries.
- Do not admit fault. Before speaking to an attorney, you should not admit responsibility for the accident. Even a simple apology given because you feel bad that someone else was injured may be construed as an admission of fault. It is best to first let your attorney evaluate fault after a thorough investigation of the accident.
- Do not accept an initial settlement offer. Again, insurers prefer to pay you less than more, even if their offer does not reflect the true value of your claim. Here too, it is best to let your attorney thoroughly investigate your accident, calculate a reasonable settlement, and handle negotiations for you.
Giving a Recorded Statement: The Process
If you choose to give a recorded statement—which begs to repeat: you should not do—it’s wise to know what the process may entail before you begin. An insurance adjuster will likely contact you after you’ve filed a claim and they may ask for your account of what happened during your accident. It’s likely that the adjuster will approach you in a way that is friendly and non-threatening, and he or she may also ask if you will give your permission to record the conversation.
If you have been recorded by an insurance adjuster without your consent, you may want to speak with an experienced attorney. Throughout your conversation with the insurance agent, he or she may try to clarify your statements with additional questions. It’s essential to think about what you say before answering. Some of these questions may try to lead you in a certain direction that would undermine or weaken your claim. For example, an experienced insurance agent might try to question how confident you are in your account of specific details or might lead to admitting that you made a small mistake during the accident. A small admission of guilt or even saying you don’t know the speed limit might delegitimize an entire claim.
Why You Should Decline a Recorded Statement
Generally, it is not recommended to give a recorded statement before speaking to a lawyer because you could accidentally say something that is taken out of context or forget a fact that is important. Your words can be used against you to weaken your case even though you told the truth. Remember, insurance adjusters have experience and are highly motivated to get you to say something that will lessen your chances of receiving compensation, or lower the amount on your claim. If you have suffered an accident and are dealing with the claims process in the aftermath, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced Washington DC Auto accident lawyer for counsel on your specific case.
Reach Out to Our Experienced Injury Attorneys for Help
At the end of the day, insurance companies are not your friends, and even your own insurer will place their interests well ahead of yours. By contrast, your attorney is legally and professionally obligated to protect and advance your best interests. At Butler Kahn, we take that responsibility very seriously, and we proudly serve our community by defending the rights of injury victims throughout Georgia. If you were injured in an accident, we are ready to help. Call us today for a free consultation.