The idea of a recorded statement comes up quickly if you are in an automobile accident in Idaho. The insurance company adjusters often pressure you to give a recorded statement right away. They act like its the normal, necessary, thing and the injured person who refuses is somehow a bad guy. That’s just one of many techniques they use.
Insurance Adjusters Are Not Your Friend
The insurance adjuster for a person who injured you is not your friend. No matter how nice or reasonable they seem. They work for and try to protect the insurance company. Giving a statement is often a mistake. There are many times a recorded statement a client has given shortly after collision has come back to cause problems.
Insurance Companies Don’t Play By The Ordinary Rules
Bad things come from recorded statements almost always because a client was trying to be a good person. They think they are in the good hands of some good neighbor insurance company. Injured people don’t realize what they are doing to themselves in these statements. That is in part because they don’t understand what the insurance company wants to do to them.
Most people start off thinking that just being fair and honest will carry the day. That is one of many common mistakes we see. But they make assumptions about facts they do not know and often make unfortunate misstatements. As part of an ordinary definition of fairness people think that by talking lots everything will be fine. It seems lots of people believe that honesty is somehow missing from the system. They figure if they are just honest they will be treated fairly. Their idea is that by being open it will cause the insurance company to “see the light.” And the injured person believes their claim will miraculously get settled for a fair amount.
Recorded Statements Are Taken In An Effort To Develop Evidence Against You
Think about the context of a recorded statement in a car accident claim. Usually a police report is filed. The insurance company has easy access to this report. In fact, Idaho law gives them the right to get the police report. They can also just as easily take notes as they talk to you. They do not need to record you. They all have computers with places to input the notes of a conversation.
So why is a recorded statement necessary? Its not.
Recorded statements are just a tool companies have put in place to see if you might reveal anything which could be later used to either deny the claim or pay out less money. They can use a recorded statement against you in a trial should one happen in your case.
That is why they do it–to try and take advantage of injured people.
So, Is The Advice Don’t Give A Statement?
Yes, any experienced personal injury lawyer’s best advice, is do not allow an adjuster to take a recorded statement. Most people are not used to dealing with the pressure of answering questions for a recording. People tend to tense up. We say things wrong. We forget things. We answer questions incompletely or misunderstand the question asked. And the information is just not as precise or accurate as it might otherwise be. The information does not comes through in the precise and thoughtful manner it would if you wrote out your answers. That would allow you to make sure the answers were exactly right.
It is understandable that people at times think it may appear dishonest to not give a statement. Adjusters are taught to make you feel that way. Honesty has nothing to do with declining the adjuster’s request (demand) that you give a statement. Wait until until you are represented and have an opportunity to be prepared by a lawyer to do it in a way that doesn’t prejudice your claim. Among the other problems are that people use words in everyday conversation that have a completely different meaning in a legal setting.
But Don’t People Give Statements Regularly?
Yes, of course they do. People give recorded statements to adjusters every day. So the best PRACTICAL ADVICE is call a lawyer before you give a statement to make sure its really what you choose to do.
Prepare Yourself Before Giving A Recorded Statement
In lawsuits, clients are subject to a sworn statement called a deposition. We spend hours making sure the client’s story comes out truthfully. As lawyers who represent injured people we do not want their answers to be twisted by the bad guy lawyer.
The stakes are the same when you give a statement to an insurance adjuster Make sure you understand the process and are prepared before you give the statement. The insurance adjuster takes statements on a regular basis. They have been trained on how to do it. This is, for most people, the only statement they will ever give.
Tips On How to Give The Safest Recorded Statement Possible:
Don’t give the adjuster a statement as soon as it is requested. The adjuster will be ready for the statement and have a game plan. You won’t. Schedule a follow-up call for the statement. Using the time to prepare for the statement. This means review the police report, look at the scene of the crash, look at pictures of the damage to your car, and review any initial medical records you can get. If there are witnesses, call them. If there are other pieces of important evidence, check them out. Review means study and think about the evidence and the details.
After you prepare yourself follow these rules:
- Request that the statement be “unrecorded”. Ask the adjuster to just take notes instead of recording the statement. Again, there is no rule or law requiring you to submit to any type of statement (except to your own insurance carrier if it is required by the written contract.)
- Your goal is NOT to get the whole story of everything you studied onto the recording. Your goal is to answer any questions truthfully and briefly.
- Answer the question asked and do not just ramble on.
- Do not volunteer information not asked about.
- Do not explain unless asked to, then do so briefly.
- Do not answer questions that you don’t understand.
- Do not GUESS and DO NOT ASSUME answers– This is particularly true for anything to do with number like dates, times, distances, amounts, speeds, etc.
- Don’t feel like you have to know or remember things- tell the adjuster if you are unsure.
- Don’t let the adjuster bully you into an answer.
- If you can’t estimate, don’t.
- Do not use words that have an absolute meaning, such as “never” and “always”.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Don’t guess–Just tell them you cant answer because you would have to guess.
- ALWAYS ask for a copy of your recorded statement. Sometimes when the insurance company transcribes the recording, they will mistype something. You want to be able to review the statement for accuracy.
- Do not easily admit you did anything wrong. Very often people’s memories of a collision are jumbled up from what really happened.
- Have a witness present when you are speaking with the adjuster.
- Take notes as to what is being asked and said.
- Do not sign anything unless a qualified attorney has reviewed it.
At Hepworth Holzer our attorneys help injured people all across Idaho.
Call or text us for a free case review and evaluation and some advice before you talk to an insurance adjuster.
Initial consultations are always free.