Should you give a statement to the insurance company after you’ve been injured in an auto accident?
Soon after the wreck, possibly even while you are still recovering in a hospital room, the insurance adjuster for the other driver will call. He seems like a nice guy – he’s concerned about the extent of your injuries, and he just needs to take a recorded statement from you so they can consider your claim.
You should never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company after an auto accident, no matter how friendly and helpful the adjuster sounds on the phone. You should politely decline and refer them to your personal injury attorney – below, we will discuss why.
Do Not Agree to Give a Statement to the Insurance Company After an Auto Accident
No matter how friendly and helpful they sound, the other driver’s insurance adjuster is not on your side.
Insurance companies do not make money by paying claims. They make money by collecting premiums, investing those premiums, and then denying, limiting, or delaying claims. They will look for any reason they can find to deny your claim or to limit your claim, and one way they do this is by getting a recorded statement from you before you talk to your personal injury attorney.
Even when they don’t find a colorable reason to deny or limit your claim, they will delay paying your claim as long as possible because time is money when your assets are invested…
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company is Not Trying to Help You
The insurance adjuster might tell you that they just want to get your statement before they can consider your claim.
They want you to tell them about the facts that would prove liability on the other driver’s part – or that would make you at fault, even if it is only partial fault. They want you to tell them about your injuries – not so they can compensate you for them, but so they can lock you into a statement that minimizes your potential recovery.
Their job is not to pay your claim – their job is to deny your claim or to pay you the least amount possible.
How Can It Hurt to Give a Statement to the Insurance Company After Your Auto Accident?
How do insurance adjusters use an accident victim’s statement to deny or limit their injury claims?
- Inconsistent Statements: They are hoping that you will make inconsistent statements over time that they can use against you if your case goes to court. And they are not wrong – an ordinary, honest person is likely to make inconsistent statements when they have made multiple statements since the accident, including to the responding officer, to the insurance company, and later in a deposition. Some of those statements were made while you were traumatized from the auto accident or under the influence of pain medications, and your understanding of what happened and the extent of your injuries has changed over time.
- Trick Questions: The nice, friendly insurance adjuster will ask you tricky questions that you are not sure how to answer and that are designed to elicit responses that will hurt your case. They are trained to word their questions to get a response that will allow them to deny your claim, and they will press you to agree with facts that you aren’t sure of and that may affect liability or damages in your case.
- Liability: If you have not been involved in an auto accident before, you probably do not understand the legal terminology related to liability. You know who does? The insurance adjuster, and they will attempt to get you to agree to statements that would allow them to deny or limit their insured’s liability.
- Damages: If you provide a statement to the insurance company soon after the accident, 1) the full extent of your injuries may not be apparent yet – the adjuster will attempt to lock you into a description of your injuries that they can later use to limit your damages, and 2) if you have not yet consulted with your auto accident attorney, you may not know the elements of damages that you are entitled to based on the facts of your case.
- Cross-Examination: They will use your statement against you later. Whether it is in court or in a deposition, your prior statements are usually admissible against you and it will give the insurance company’s attorney ammunition to use against you.
What if My Own Insurance Company Wants Me to Give Them a Statement?
If your own insurance company wants you to give them a statement after an auto accident, that may be a different situation entirely.
Your insurance company should be on your side, but you should be aware that, sometimes, even your own insurance company’s interests can become adverse to your own. What should you do?
You have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurance company – if you do not, it may give them an excuse to not pay an otherwise valid claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or a counterclaim filed by the other driver.
You should 1) immediately notify your insurance company after any auto accident, regardless of who was at fault, and 2) do not decline to give them a statement but consult with your auto accident attorney first.
You may have options other than submitting to questioning and providing a recorded statement, like providing a written statement that your attorney can help you to prepare.
If you have been in an automobile accident, it is likely that the other driver’s insurance company will be contacting you soon after to attempt to get a recorded statement from you – don’t do it. Consult with an experienced auto accident attorney before talking to the insurance company.