Shortly after a car accident, you may find yourself disoriented. Maybe you had a concussion and were released from the hospital with medication to ease the pain. Perhaps you’re making a special point to work around your recent disruption to daily life by taking the bus to work and bringing lunch from home until the claim is settled.
You’re frazzled and not thinking clearly. Then the insurance company’s claims adjuster calls, wanting to speak with you for a moment. They ask if you would mind making a recorded statement to speed the process of the claim.
You’ll do anything to get it over with, right? Not so fast. Giving a recorded statement is a bad idea for several reasons.
Victims Are Not Obligated to Give a Recorded Statement
The adjuster may tell you that this is a required part of the process. However, no law exists that makes recorded statements a necessity. Sometimes an insurance company in one of the no-fault states may request a statement from its own policyholder before paying out money. Texas, however, is not one of the no-fault states.
The Claims Adjusters Want to Trick You
Most victims preparing to give recorded statements are not on guard when adjusters call. The adjusters will say the statement is to verify that the other party was truly responsible for the crash. The claims adjusters do this for a living. What they’re really after is your complicity in denying your own rights.
They ask questions designed to gather answers that can be taken out of context. They want to fluster and mislead, and adjusters often employ strategies of warming up victims before throwing them off-balance with hard-hitting questions. The adjuster may also try to make those giving recorded statements admit partial fault. They can frame general details or vague statements to look much more specific when used as evidence later.
Questions regarding your medical injuries can be particularly damaging. Given the fact that it’s usually difficult to understand the extent of your injuries early on, speaking on record with limited knowledge of your condition will only serve to hurt later. Recorded statements are often used to challenge medical injuries that take a few days to a week to manifest.
Remember, you are the victim, but you are going after the insurance company’s money. The job of every adjuster is to prevent losses. These conflicting goals mean that their questioning is built to trip you up. They ask for statements shortly after the accident hoping the victim hasn’t spoken to an attorney and solidified their story. Even offhanded answers like “maybe” or “I guess so” can have disastrous consequences.
You Have Already Given a Statement
The police report is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the report was generated by police officers just trying to learn the facts, not asking leading questions to twist your words, so this will usually be a more accurate reflection of the accident.
However, an insurance company that has been given a statement can now check both reports for inconsistencies. If the claim happens to go to trial, the two statements can be used during the insurer’s questioning.
Consult a Lawyer
You should always contact a Houston personal injury lawyer when faced with making a recorded statement. The lawyer can screen the questions, give a prepared statement of his own, and keep an insurance company from making a legal mockery of the client.
Brian White is an attorney practicing in Houston, Texas. With years of personal injury law under his belt, he has become successful at settling claims on behalf of clients at the mercy of insurance companies. If you have been recently contacted by a claims adjuster, or have any questions about a recent auto accident, Brian White can give you the care and attention you deserve.