First, I think it is helpful to try to explain what a recorded statement is and how an insurance claim is handled. In theory, the at-fault driver has liability insurance through their liability carrier. After an automobile accident, a claim is made against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. An insurance adjuster is then assigned to handle the processing of claim. An insurance adjuster is simply someone who works for the insurance company who’s job it is to handle and process claims through resolution.
While insurance adjusters are usually polite and considerate, let me be clear that their job is to deny a claim if possible or, in the alternative, to close a claim for as little money as possible. Insurance companies make money by denying payment of claims and settling for as little as possible. That is the short explanation of how insurance companies maximize profits.
What is a Recorded Statement?
After the claim is assigned to the adjuster they will conduct a thorough investigation into the accident. One of the first things the adjuster will do when investigating the claim is to seek a recorded statement from both drivers and any possible witnesses to the accident. This is normally done over the telephone.
A recorded statement is done in a typical question and answer format where the insurance adjuster will ask you questions and you provide answers. The typical process will start with the insurance adjuster gathering some general background information about you, including your employment and medical history. They will then ask you questions about how the accident occurred, what happened immediately prior to, during and following the accident. They will also try to gather information about what your injuries were and what type of medical treatment you received, including the names of all medical providers you have seen since the accident.
The Purpose Of A Recorded Statement
In a general sense, one of the reasons for the adjuster to obtain a recorded statement is to simply gather information about the accident. Insurance companies will always want to know as much as possible about an accident before they make a decision to pay out a claim. Only so much can be gathered from reading accident reports and medical records. Speaking to the parties involved is the easiest way to get a clear picture of how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
Another reason insurance companies want to obtain a recorded statement from you is to try and learn a little bit about who they are dealing with as a person. They are trying to determine whether or not you are credible. Whether your side of the story is accurate and whether a potential jury would sympathize with you and your injuries. These are all factors that can have a significant impact on the overall value of your claim.
Lastly, insurance companies want to obtain a recorded statement from you to use as a tool during litigation. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will hire an attorney to represent their interests. During the course of litigation, you will be forced to tell your version of the accident on several different occasions, usually in the form of a deposition or potential trial testimony. In the event your various statements change at any point, or there are certain facts that are contradictory, the insurance company will use those inconsistencies to attack your credibility. Likewise, your recorded statement can potentially be used to impeach your subsequent testimony during a deposition or trial.
Should You Give A Recorded Statement?
In my opinion, whether or not you should provide a recorded statement depends on whether or not you hire an attorney to represent you during your auto accident claim. If you know for a certain fact that you will not need an attorney then you will likely have no choice but to provide a recorded statement order to settle your claim. However, I strongly recommend you at least speak with an experienced auto accident attorney before making any decisions.
For me, when I take on representation of someone who has been involved in an automobile accident, one of the first things I do is to advise my client not to give a recorded statement if they have not already done so. I also contact the insurance company to inform them of my representation, advise them that they are not allowed to speak with my client or take a recorded statement, ask that any prior recorded statements of any witnesses be produced to me for review and inform the insurance company that all communications regarding the claim should be addressed to me and not my client.
In short, a recorded statement only has the potential to help the insurance company and hurt your claim. It is always best to reduce the number of statements you make during a car accident claim to limit the amount of opportunities for inconsistent statements. If you are not sure whether or not you should provide a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster after your car accident, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Jared C. Williams, LLC at (843) 991-6528 to discuss your options.