April 13, 2017
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After an accident, whether it’s a car accident or a slip and fall injury, an insurance adjuster will call to hear your side of the events. They might want a recorded statement or use the phone call as a record of your statement. You’re not required to provide a recorded statement of the incident and doing so can cause serious damage to your case.
The Reason Behind the Recorded Statement
While the adjuster might have the best intentions, they are working for the insurance company. It’s a business that deals with hundreds if not thousands of cases on a regular basis. The adjuster will use the recorded statement to construct a picture of what happened both before, during and after the accident.
There are pleasant adjusters and those who are rude and nasty, but for both types of adjusters, you’re a claim number and a name on their paperwork. They’re not in the business of helping you. In fact, some insurance adjusters are adept at using recorded messages and leading questions to damage your claim.
Preparing a Statement for the Insurance Company
You absolutely have the right to refuse to give the insurance company a recorded statement. They can’t threaten you into making one. If they make threatening noises about the statement, you could tell them you’ll provide one later. If they demand a recorded statement, your lawyer can walk you through the process.
Outline Your Case
First, it’s important that you have all the facts in the right order. During the recording, you’ll be able to follow the timeline to ensure you don’t leave out any important details. A recorded statement can’t be taken back, so you’ll need to be thoroughly prepared. All the words and information you exchange with the insurance company becomes a part of the record and file of your case.
Don’t be afraid to write things down and have them in front of you during the recording. Whether you’re talking with the adjuster or recording for delivery later, the outline will keep you on track. It’ll keep you from rambling and revealing information that can damage your case.
Stick to the Facts
As near as you can, outline exactly what happened without adding in personal details. If you were in a car accident, never explain that you were running late or have had a bad time lately because of a divorce. This can be used against you later to say that you were distracted or driving recklessly.
Do You Have a Duty to Cooperate?
The only time someone can be forced to cooperate is when they live in a no-fault state or if they’re filing under the Uninsured Motorist part of their policy. You might be compelled to give a recorded statement to your insurance company. California is not a “no-fault” state. If the insurance company for your accident or fall injury is putting pressure on you, it’s important that you contact an attorney.
Making the Recorded Statement with the Adjuster
If you are forced to make a recorded statement with the adjuster, be careful about your choice of words. The adjuster can often ask irrelevant questions or make statements that can weaken the strength of your claim. For instance, the adjuster might say something like, “It sounds like you were distracted with all those kids in the car.” Never discuss anything other than the exact facts of the case.
If you’re unsure of your obligations or want the advice of a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, tell the insurance company that you’ll have to get back to them. Never feel pressured to give an immediate statement until you’ve contacted an attorney and learned what your rights and obligations are.