Chances are that if you watch television, you’ve seen at least one ad for an insurance company touting their folksy, people-first policies. While insurance companies are not your enemies, it is important to remember that they are businesses, and businesses must act first and foremost in their own interests, not yours. Therefore, when you have been in an accident and receive a call from an insurance adjuster or claim representative requesting that you give a statement, it is critical for you to remember that the caller’s purpose is to get you to say something that may reduce amount they will have to pay to settle your claim. Be very careful about whatever statements you make, especially if they are going to be recorded.
You might wonder why a “recorded statement” is different from a regular statement. Basically, they can be used in different ways. Recorded statements are official and cannot be changed while off-the-record statements can be edited or corrected later. You should definitely give a statement containing the facts about the accident, but a company cannot make your words a matter of record without your permission. Providing helpful information to the insurance companies is different than making a standing record.
You definitely have the right to refuse to make a recorded statement if the statement is requested by a different insurance company. If an insurance company for another driver is pressuring you to make a recorded statement, you should contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in auto accidents or speak to your own insurer about it. An attorney can make sure that you provide only the necessary information to your insurer.
Once you give a recorded statement, it is impossible to change anything you have said. The record is created on the spot, with no time to prepare and often before you have seen your doctor and obtained an accurate diagnosis of your condition. If you give incomplete answers because you have forgotten some details, it is hard to include them later. It is also common that some injuries are not symptomatic until weeks or even months after an accident. If you fail to mention injuries, it looks suspicious to do so later, even if you did not know about them at first. You may unknowingly make incorrect statements that prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve. Your spontaneous statements may not be as clear as you think they are, so if your own insurer says you are obligated to make a statement, you should submit one in writing so that you can be concise and accurate. If you are careful to only share objective facts about the accident and avoid speculation about fault, your own insurance provider can use the statement to help determine the settlement. You can and must cooperate with your insurance company, but you can do this without making a recorded statement. Protect your interests by contacting an attorney if you have questions about your obligations after an accident.