Auto Accidents, Recorded Statements and Insurance Adjusters
So the best PRACTICAL ADVICE we can give is call an Idaho personal injury attorney before you give a statement to make sure it is really what you want to do.
Insurance adjusters often pressure people who have been in a car accident to give a recorded statement. They tend to act like it is normal, expected and required. And, they treat an injured person who refuses as if they are a bad guy or doing something wrong.
If you want to understand the role of recorded statements and what you need to think about before giving one, read on.
Never, ever, forget the insurance company adjuster is looking out for the company not you.
No matter how nice or reasonable they seem. They work for and try to protect the insurance company. Without question, providing a statement is often a mistake. Why do we say this? Because of the many times that a statement a client has given the insurance adjuster shortly after the collision and before they retained us has caused a problem for the client. This is usually because our client was trying to be a good person and thought they were in good hands with some good neighbor insurance company.
The client does not realize what they are doing to themselves because they don't understand what the insurance company wants to do to them. Most people start off thinking that just by being completely open, fair and honest everything will be A-OK. One portion of that "honesty" is simply talking lots about every last thing they can think of. The idea people have is that this will cause the insurance company to treat their claim fairly. They figure if they come across as honest they will be treated right by the big insurance carriers.
Well it is just not true.
If you stop for a second and think about it you will see what we mean. In most car crashes, there is a police report that will be filed containing all the necessary information about the collision. All the insurance companies have easy access to the report. Idaho law expressly gives the insurance companies the right to a copy of the police investigative report.
Also, the adjuster can also just as easily take notes as they talk to you. In fact they usually do so. Thus, they do not need to record you.
So why is a recorded statement necessary? Its not.
The companies get statements to see if they can dig out any information about the crash YOU might reveal which could be later used to either deny the claim or pay out less money when settlement occurs. They want to get a recorded statement to use against you in a trial should one happen in your case. That is why they try to record statements–to take advantage of injured people.
The best advice we can give as Idaho personal injury attorneys is never allow an insurance adjuster to take a recorded statement.
Ordinary Idahoans are not used to dealing with the pressure of answering questions for a recording. We tend to tense up. We say things wrong. We get distracted. We forget things. We answer questions incompletely or misunderstand the question asked. And the information is just not as precise or accurate as it should be. People use words in everyday conversation that have a completely different meaning in a legal setting .It comes out in a roundabout way or incompletely. If you wrote out your answers and took the time to make sure the answers were exactly right the company would get more accurate information.
People seem to think it appears dishonest to not give a statement. This is just manipulation of your emotions by the insurance companies. The adjusters are sent to class to learn to make you feel that way. Declining the adjuster's request that you give a statement until you are represented and have an opportunity to be prepared by a lawyer to do it in a way that doesn't prejudice your claim usually means the statement is more accurate and honest.
We understand that the reality is that people give recorded statements every day.
If you choose to give a statement you need to prepare yourself.
Again, the best advice we can give is advise you to call an Idaho personal injury attorney before you give a statement to make sure it is really what you want to do.
In lawsuits, clients are subject to a sworn statement called a deposition. Attorneys often spend hours making sure our client's story comes out truthfully. We make sure they know how to prevent their answers from being twisted by the bad guy lawyer.
If you give a statement to an insurance adjuster, make sure you understand the process and are prepared before you give the statement. The insurance adjuster takes statements on a regular basis. They have been trained on how to do it. This is, for most ordinary people involved in a collision, the only statement they will ever give.
One Rule and Twenty Tips For Giving a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Adjuster.
The ONE Rule is: "Prepare yourself."
Don't give the adjuster a statement as soon as it is requested.
The adjuster will be ready for the statement and have a game plan. You won't. Schedule a follow-up call for the statement. Use the time to prepare for the statement. This means review the police report, look at the scene of the crash, look at pictures of the damage to your car, and review any initial medical records you can get. If there are witnesses, call them. If there are other pieces of important evidence, check them out. Review means study and think about the evidence and the details.
The Twenty Tips
- Request that the statement be "unrecorded". Ask the adjuster to just take notes instead of record the statement. Again, there is no rule or law requiring you to submit to any type of statement (except to your own insurance carrier if it is required by the written contract)
- Your goal is NOT to get the whole story of everything you studied onto the recording.
- Your goal is to answer any questions truthfully and briefly.
- Don't forget that you probably will forget something. Tell the adjuster that out loud.
- Answer the question asked and do not just ramble on
- Do not volunteer information not asked about.
- Do not explain unless asked to, then do so briefly.
- Do not answer questions that you don't understand.
- Do not GUESS and DO NOT ASSUME answers – This is particularly true for anything to do with number like dates, times, distances, amounts, speeds, etc.
- Do not feel like you have to know or remember things- tell the adjuster if you are unsure.
- Do not let the adjuster bully you into an answer.
- If you can't estimate, don't.
- Do not use words that have an absolute meaning, such as "never" and "always".
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Do not guess–Just tell them you cannot answer because you would have to guess.
- ALWAYS ask for a copy of your recorded statement. Sometimes when the insurance company transcribes the recording, they will mistype something. You want to be able to review the statement for accuracy.
- Do not admit you did anything wrong. Very often people's memories of a collision are jumbled up from what really happened.
- Have a witness present when you are speaking with the adjuster.
- Take notes as to what is being asked and said.
- Do not sign anything unless a qualified attorney has reviewed it.