Should an Injured Driver Give A Recorded Statement to An Insurance Company?
The period after a car accident can be very confusing. Between trying to understand the extent of injuries you’ve suffered and filing your claim, you’re also likely dealing with an enforced break from work or a pause to your means of livelihood.
Due to the stress and confusion of this period, many people are eager to put the whole experience behind them. You want to do everything possible to expedite the claims process and help the insurer every way you can. But should that extend to providing a recorded statement to an insurance company?
Our car accident attorneys at Fletcher Law Office can explain why you should be cautious in providing a recorded statement to the insurance company. Giving a recorded statement to an insurance company can be dangerous to your claim, and the danger only increases when you do this without first consulting with an attorney.
In this article, we’ll explain what role recorded statements play in the claims process, the danger of giving a recorded statement and what you can do if you simply must give one.
Why Insurers Want Recorded Statements
Insurance claims are usually investigated by loss adjusters. Think of the loss adjuster as an insurance detective whose primary job is to ascertain that you truly suffered loss, clarify the extent of your loss and determine how much should be paid.
In order to do this, they typically must get a full picture of exactly what happened. The loss adjuster will typically use witness statements (if available), police reports, incident reports and driver statements, to get a full picture of the claim.
As a result, they may want to speak with you to get your own version of the events that led up to your injury.
But there’s an often-unknown element about the request for recorded statements. Insurance companies are very intentional in the manner in which they proceed with these claims. If there is way for a claim representative or adjuster to interpret your injuries as being less severe than they truly are, often that alternative interpretation will used to diminish the value of your claim. This arises from the nature of the modern insurance industry. It’s in their interest to diminish the value of your claim.
Due to this, most insurance companies not only want to hear your version of events, they want to isolate points that can minimize your claim or justify them in refusing it entirely.
Are You Obligated to Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurer?
Usually, insurance loss adjusters will inform you that a recorded statement is required “as part of the process”. Others will come right out and say you are obligated to provide a recorded statement. But are you?
The truth is, the answer may depend on who’s asking. If the loss adjuster is calling you from the other driver’s insurance company, then, No. You do not have to give a recorded statement. Whether they ask nicely or insist that you are obligated to do so, you can simply refuse to provide a statement either at all or until you have contacted your lawyer.
But with your own insurer, things may be slightly different. Most insurance policies include what is referred to as a “cooperation clause.” This clause basically states that you agree to cooperate with the investigation of the claim and comply with any requests deemed necessary to the claim. Failure to cooperate or comply may be a breach of the insurance policy and may result in denial of your claim.
This means, you may have to provide a recorded statement to your own insurer. There are many instances where you might have to claim from your insurer. Kansas is a no-fault insurance state, meaning you have to file a claim for your loss with your own insurer. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may also turn to your own insurer where the other driver had no insurance or was uninsured.
However, even when you may be obligated to provide a statement, keep in mind that it does not have to be recorded. You are also entitled to put off giving the statement until you’re physically and mentally prepared, and only in the presence of your attorney. In all cases, if you do accept to give a recorded statement, you should keep the risks in mind.
The Danger of Accepting to Give a Recorded Statement
When you give a recorded statement to a loss adjuster, you make it more likely that they will succeed in their basic mission to minimize your claim. Sadly, simply telling the truth is not enough to protect you as make the statement. You potentially provide ammo for them to pick holes in your story and take your words out of context.
One way they can often use your statement against you is by picking out inconsistencies. They will typically take your statement and compare it to the statement you gave the police after the accident or a deposition you’ve made in a lawsuit following the accident. Where they find inconsistencies, which is possible when someone has to tell their story more than once, the insurance company will claim you lied. They may then use this to minimize or deny your claim.
Another danger in agreeing to these statements is the trick questions that adjusters typically ask. For instance, when they start, they may ask “how are you feeling today?” If you answer “fine”, they’ll regard this as an “admission against interest”. Injured people shouldn’t feel fine, especially when they’re supposed to be receiving treatment.
They may also use your recorded statement as ammo for contradiction later on, should you decide to file a lawsuit. During cross-examination, the insurance company’s lawyer may be looking to find inconsistencies between your testimony in court and your recorded statement. They will then use this to contradict you and claim you’re lying.
The dangers that may result from giving a recorded statement often make it a risky decision that should only be taken after consulting with your car accident attorney.
Tips for Giving a Recorded Statement
If it turns out that you cannot refuse to provide the recorded statement, these tips will help you minimize your exposure after the statement. Keep the following in mind:
- Ask that the statement not be recorded
- Do not admit fault or liability
- Ask the loss adjuster to rephrase or explain unclear questions
- Do not provide more information than is requested and resist the urge to over-explain your responses
- Have your lawyer present
- Request a copy of your statement, both the transcript and the recording
Contact our Missouri Car Accident Attorneys for Help
Dealing with a car accident can be very stressful and confusing. By contacting an experienced Kansas personal injury attorney, you can put your claim in the right hands and focus on rebuilding your life while your attorney fights for you.
At Fletcher Law Office, we are dedicated to upholding the rights of car accident victims. If you were injured in a car accident due to the fault of another driver, we can help you hold them accountable and recover fair compensation.