There is a simple answer to this question: No. Because so many car accident victims make this mistake, we would like to explain why you should always say no when an insurance adjuster asks you to give a recorded statement about what happened in the accident. It is one of the most common mistakes made by those involved in car accidents and, with our helpful advice, one you can avoid.
Why Insurance Companies Want a Recorded Statement
After an accident that damages your car and leaves you injured, you will have to contact your insurance company and may also be dealing with another driver’s insurance company. Many car accident claims are easily settled by simply filing a claim. However, if there is a serious injury or one party is 100 percent liable for all damages, these claims become much more complicated. In order to make their jobs easier, insurance adjusters like to collect statements from those involved and hope these statements relieve them of at least some of their obligation to pay out on the claim. When the statement is a video or audio recording, it becomes much harder to dispute. Some adjusters will take advantage of a victim’s confusion and fear immediately following an accident to try to record a statement. Your best course of action is to refuse to make a statement and call an attorney.
What Insurers Hope to Get From a Statement
It is important to remember that an insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate and settle claims while saving the company as much money as possible. When they interview a claimant, they are looking for any fact they can uncover to lower the value of the claim. Examples of these kinds of statements include the following:
- Outright admission of fault. An adjuster’s ultimate goal is to get the claimant to admit that he or she was fully at fault for the accident. If the company represents the other driver, this could relieve them of any liability to pay damages. Getting an interviewee to say “It was my fault,” or “I should not have been speeding” is strong evidence to deny a claim. If these statements are on a video or audio recording, the evidence is even stronger.
- Veiled admission of guilt. While an outright admission is preferred, an adjuster may ask leading questions to get an interviewee to make statements that merely suggest guilt. Apologies and comments such as “I should not have made that turn” or “I did not see her car,” can be taken as proof of fault.
- Denial of serious injury. What gives a claim a high monetary value is a serious permanent injury. If you are claiming that your injuries will make it difficult or impossible to work, but then downplay your pain in an interview, that could be used to lower the value of your claim. Simply answering the question, “How are you?” by saying you are fine could hurt your claim—especially if the statement is on tape.
- Revealing personal information. The adjuster may fish for information about your personal life that could show that you were distracted at the time of the accident or that you are desperate for money. Revealing that you are in the middle of a nasty divorce or that your mind was somewhere else can give them ammunition to lower your claim.
As you can see, granting an interview opens you up to many potential problems. Your best bet is to say no and contact a lawyer.
How to Avoid This Pitfall
You are under no legal obligation to speak to the insurance company for another driver, so if you are contacted for a statement, you can refuse. While you are obligated to notify your insurer, you do not have to consent to being recorded. No one can record you without your permission and it is never a good idea to grant it.
If you are confused about who to talk to and what to say, contact an experienced Indiana car accident attorney. Keller & Keller would be happy to advise you about making statements following a car crash.