It would be best if you were prepared when talking to any insurance company, especially the insurance company representing the offender. You should know what guidelines to follow because even the most minor hiccup could affect your insurance claim. Most personal injury lawyers will advise you not to give an insurance statement to an insurance company before discussing your case with them. They will especially ask that you do not make a recorded statement, which can often hurt your case. Once you share too much information, you cannot take it back.
A personal injury attorney will help you understand if you need to make a statement and how to make an appropriate statement that does not jeopardize your claim. The following information gives you an idea of how to handle this part of your claims process.
What is an Insurance Statement?
After an accident, your insurance company adjuster (as well as the other driver's insurance company) will contact the victim and/or witnesses to ask questions about the accident. These questions may be written or recorded and may be submitted as evidence. The written insurance statement is longer, and the respondent has much more control over their answers.
The recorded insurance statement will contain questions you would probably expect an insurance company to ask. They will first ask basic, identifying questions, such as your full name, address, telephone number, and date of birth. Then they may ask about identifying car information, the identity of any possible passenger(s), location of the accident, cause, types of damage, if you were complying with state driving laws, if there were witnesses, the police response, injuries and medical treatment. They will ask if you agree to being recorded and if you agree to have your recording shared.
Why Adjusters Want Recorded Statements
The main reason claim adjusters want recorded statements is so the adjuster can get as much information about the accident to reduce the insurance company exposure or outright deny the claim. This allows them to lead you to answer in a way that will benefit their case. They can also control which questions to ask, questions that will favor their client at settlement or in court.
These questions can be couched in a way to get a desired response from you. You may be answering honestly, but even good and honest answers can be spun to seem undesirable. Your questions and answers may be brief, allowing you little opportunity to explain yourself. You may not get the chance to tell your whole side of the story. A bad statement can keep you from obtaining fair compensation for your injuries.
The insurance adjuster will also try to contact you immediately after the accident in hopes of speaking to you when you are still in shock, dazed, emotional, anxious, or taking pain medication. These are common symptoms after being injured in an accident. If caught off guard, you may feel pressured to answer questions you are not prepared to answer, and they are counting on it. This can result in you answering in a way that was not intended.
Attorney's Advice for Insurance Statements
· First, you are advised to contact your personal injury attorney before giving a statement. Your attorney will represent your best interests and help prepare you for the questions the adjusters will ask.
· Next, your attorney will advise you not to speak to the offender's insurance company until you meet with him/her and talk through your side of the story. This is so your attorney can help you to only speak on relevant details that help your case. Your answers should be as brief as possible. The more detail you offer, the more likely the adjusters will spin your answers out of context in an effort to minimize your monetary payout down the line.
· Do not permit your statement to be recorded. You are not under any obligation to be recorded by the at-fault party's insurance adjuster. If pressed, you can simply politely decline an adjuster's request. Anything you say will be compared to other statements you have made.
· Do speak to your insurance adjuster. Your adjuster will request an insurance statement for you to explain your side of the story. Not only is it appropriate for you to talk to your adjuster as soon as possible, but you are also likely contractually obligated to cooperate with them fully.
· The adjuster from the offender's insurance company will seem very nice in an effort to relax you and to get you to trust them. They work for the opposition in this case. The adjuster is not your friend.
· Take your time and answer only the question asked of you. Do not elaborate and do not volunteer any information.
· Do not admit to fault.
· Do not answer questions about potential injuries. It can take several days for your injuries to become pronounced, as many people do not feel pain immediately after the accident due to adrenaline or injuries masking other injuries.
· If you do not know the answer to a question, tell them you do not know. Do not guess and do not answer out of obligation. In situations concerning legalities, some people become nervous and try to answer all that is asked of them. You are permitted to skip questions that you cannot answer. Do not offer any answers unless you are sure of those answers.
· Do not assume you can trust your own insurance adjuster. There are situations that can arise where your agent or adjuster does not have your best interest in mind. Always keep answers brief and do not overshare. Remember that any information that you share with your own adjuster is not protected and can be subpoenaed.
· Do not sign any insurance statements or documents without first consulting with your attorney.
If you have any questions at all and are considering filing a personal injury claim in Florida, contact us for a risk-free case evaluation.