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Should you give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver's insurance company?

Posted by Raj Chohan | Mar 04, 2019

With few exceptions, the answer is no. After a car crash, the auto insurance companies involved will typically attempt to secure recorded statements from the parties involved in the collision.

If you were injured by another driver's negligence, the at-fault driver's insurance company will try to contact you to find out what happened.  They will often ask the injured motorist to make a recorded statement over the phone about the cause of the accident and the injuries sustained in the crash.

The insurance companies have several reasons for doing this. First, they are trying to investigate issues of liability and damages.  The insurance adjuster wants to know who's at fault, how much the damages are likely to be, and whether the insurance company is ultimately going to be liable for any injuries, damages and losses caused by their insured.

Often the injured party will contact the other driver's insurance company to start a claim. It is during this conversation, or one that may occur shortly after, that the insurance adjuster will attempt to get the injured party to make a recorded statement.

I advise my clients to never give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver's insurance company. I also advise my clients to avoid providing any statements about how the accident occurred and the nature and extent of their injuries.  The reason is simple: insurance companies will use your recorded statements against you in the adversarial claim handling process or in later litigation.

When you make a recorded statement immediately after a crash, you may be confused about what happened, you may have suffered a head injury, you may be in shock, you may not know the full extent of your injuries, and you may downplay the pain and inconvenience you have suffered because it is human nature to do so. The insurance company now has you on record with statements you made before you had all the facts.

When you make a claim for injuries that didn't show up until days after the crash, the insurance adjusters will point to your recorded statement with a raised eyebrow and explain that you never mentioned any of the injuries you are now claiming. They will use your recorded statement against you in court to attack your credibility and minimize the amount of damages you are alleging.

The truth is, many people who have sustained soft tissue whiplash injuries in a collision won't start feeling the pain until hours and sometimes days later. This is because these injuries involve strain on connective tissue in the body.  This tissue inflames after it has been injured.  The inflammation is what causes the pain. The inflammation, however, does not usually appear immediately. It takes hours and sometimes days to fully materialize.  An example is bumping your arm on a piece of cornered furniture and not seeing a bruise until hours later. If you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster thirty minutes after a crash, there is a good chance you may not even know you have been injured. You may think you are fine and tell the insurance adjuster that you were not hurt. Then you wake up the next day and feel like every part of your body is in pain.  Even after seeking medical treatment for these injuries, the insurance adjuster may still try to use your recorded statement to suggest the injuries are exaggerated or related to some other cause. The other disadvantage to giving a recorded statement is that months later you may not remember everything you told an insurance adjuster during the recorded interview. Any inconsistency will be used against you later.

When you hire a personal injury attorney, your attorney will communicate with the insurance adjuster about your injuries based on actual medical records and multiple conversations with the client. Your attorney will be able to explain to the insurance adjuster why some injuries appeared immediately and why other injuries took days or weeks to show up.

Under certain limited circumstances, your attorney may allow you to speak to an insurance adjuster about your injuries. But even in those rare cases, your attorney will thoroughly discuss with you the boundaries and will likely want to be present to prevent you from being asked questions that are out of bounds.

There are different rules when your own insurance company wants a recorded statement. Your insurance contract with your own auto insurance carrier likely contains a cooperation clause which means you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company's investigation of the claim. Nevertheless, your attorney will likely want to be present even when you talk to your own insurance company about the accident.

If you have already made recorded statements before you hired an attorney, your newly hired attorney will likely reach out to the insurance companies and request copies of any statements you have given. In this way the attorney can use those statements to refresh your memory before any additional statements such as deposition testimony or trial testimony are given.

The Max Law Firm is well equipped to assist you through this confusing process. For a free consultation call 720-699-8268.

About the Author

Raj Chohan

Raj Chohan is a personal injury attorney with a passion for helping injured Coloradans seek the compensation they deserve and the justice their cases demand. He is a former prosecutor with extensive jury trial experience in some of the most complex and serious cases that exist under Colorado law...