Getting involved in an accident can be traumatic and confusing. The experience can cloud your judgment between understanding the extent of the damage and everything that goes into filing your claim.
Due to possible injuries and the stress of the accident, you may be eager to put the whole experience behind you and therefore rush to give your account of the incident to the insurer. From a California personal injury law firm perspective, one of the factors that can complicate the claim process is your recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
It would be best to seek legal guidance on whether to give a recorded statement and, if yes, at what point.
Why Do Insurers Want Recorded Statements?
Once you file a compensation claim after an accident, loss adjusters will investigate it to determine a compensation amount. Their job is to verify that you suffered losses in the accident and clarify the loss extent.
One of the ways they do this is by collecting police reports, witness statements, incident reports, and the claimant’s statements to get a complete picture. Insurance adjusters will want to speak with you to collect details of what happened during the accident.
The Danger of Accepting to Give a Recorded Statement
Insurance agents will always try to shortchange claimants out of the total compensation they deserve. So, they might use your statement to interpret your injuries and the damages as less severe than they are to lower your claim’s value.
Insurance adjusters might pick out isolated points in your statement and can compare them to the report you gave the police to establish inconsistencies. While some details in your story might change if you have to tell it repeatedly, the insurer may claim that you lied, which might work against you.
That’s why you should be cautious about giving a recorded statement to an insurance company. The best thing would be to consult a car accident attorney in California and have them speak to the adjusters on your behalf. Besides, you’re entitled to postpone stating your facts until you’re mentally and physically prepared and in the presence of a lawyer.
Am I Legally Obligated to Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurer?
You are not obligated to give an insurance company a recorded statement. However, they will try to convince you that a recorded statement is required to process your claim. Others will tell you that you must provide a recorded statement, but before you say anything, consult a car accident lawyer in California to understand your legal options and the risk involved.
If you must give a recorded statement, California personal injury law firm will help you make the right choice. Here are some factors the lawyers will help you consider:
Which Insurance Company Does the Adjuster Represent?
If the insurance adjuster represents your insurance company, the policy may require that you reasonably cooperate with the investigator. Your responsibility includes providing information about the accident, which may consist of a recorded statement. However, you have no obligation to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
If you and the other driver have the same insurance company, finding out who the insurer represents before giving your account is critical. Your insurance provider may require a recorded statement for various reasons, even if you were not at fault in the accident. For example, you might need to file a claim with your provider if the other driver lacks insurance.
Who Was at Fault in the Accident?
In accidents where fault cannot be determined automatically, the other driver’s insurance company may try to assign some blame to you. You should therefore maintain caution when responding to their questions about your speed, how much time you had to react, or other factors surrounding the accident.
The adjuster might exploit any inaccuracies in your statement to argue that you had enough time to avoid a collision even if you were not at fault. Consult a skilled California car accident attorney to help you give an accurate statement and to minimize the risk that the adjuster will take advantage of your inexperience in answering their questions.
What Should I Keep in Mind When Giving a Recorded Statement?
If you agree to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster, whether they represent your company or the other driver’s insurance provider, here are some essential things to keep in mind:
Ensure You Hear and Clearly Understand the Question
Take your time answering the adjuster’s questions. Pause and reflect to allow yourself enough time to think about the possible impact of your answer. Ensure you understand all of the words used and if unsure, ask the adjuster to repeat or rephrase the question.
You also must be wary of trick questions that adjusters typically ask to trap claimants. For example, they might ask how you’re feeling. If you’re too quick to say that you feel fine, they can use your answer as an admission against interest. Generally, an accident victim with injuries isn’t supposed to feel well, especially if still undergoing treatment.
Control Your Answers
Provide clear, complete, and audible answers when asked about the accident. Avoid nodding or shaking your head, as these responses may appear in the transcript and may be misinterpreted. Only explain your answers within the scope of the questions, and don’t think out loud.
If asked about the injuries, tell the investigator about everything that hurts, and don’t just summarize what the medical practitioners told you at the hospital.
A Strategic Legal Professional Protecting Your Rights After an Accident
Investigators will likely reach out to you for a recorded statement if you were injured in an accident and want to file a claim. It’s in your best interest to be careful with your answers, keeping in mind that you’re not obligated to record a statement with the other driver’s insurer.
If you must give a recorded statement, it should be after you talk to an experienced California car accident lawyer. An experienced lawyer at our firm can guide you on what to say and what to avoid to prevent the adjuster from undervaluing your claim. Contact us to schedule a FREE in-depth case evaluation.