Should I give my insurance company a recorded statement?
It is one of the conundrums of auto accidents – they happen unexpectedly but once they do occur, you need to be able to think on your feet in order to make wise decisions on the fly. Case in point: the insurance company request for a recorded statement.
This scenario is all too familiar. You are injured in an accident and within days, insurance adjusters are calling to speak with you. Often, they will request permission to record the call in order to preserve your statement. What do you do? It depends, but be sure not to act without first speaking with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
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Are you obligated to provide a recorded statement?
There is a big difference between your own insurance company asking for a recorded statement and the other party’s insurance company making the same request. With your own insurance company, there is most likely fine print in the policy that says that you agree to cooperate with the company in its investigation and that failure to do so can constitute a breach of contract. However, this does not mean you must provide a statement NOW. It is always better to consult with a personal injury attorney first and ideally to have him or her present on the call.
When it comes to the other party’s insurance company, you do not have the same obligation. In addition, the opposing company has a financial incentive to not be entirely clear with their motives and intentions. Be wary. A recorded statement can hurt you but not help you so do not agree.
Dangers in a recorded statement
Sadly, simply telling the truth is not enough to protect an honest person when it comes to providing a recorded statement. For starters, anything you say will likely be twisted. If you testify later, like in trial, any minor discrepancy from the recording can be used to try to paint you as a liar.
Even if there is no true conflict in statements, the other side will manipulate your words. For example, if you mentioned the man in the vehicle in one statement and the woman in the vehicle in another statement, this will be used to show you were untruthful. In reality, it may be that there was both a man and a woman in the vehicle.
Another problem is that your situation may change. Many injuries are not apparent until several days after the accident so if you honestly tell the adjuster that you were not hurt and you discover later that you actually were, it will be used against you. You may think there is no danger in having an unguarded conversation with your own insurer, but if the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, your carrier may be on the hook for the damages and be looking for a way to reduce the claim.
Tips for giving a recorded statement
If you must give a statement:
- Request that it not be recorded
- Have your lawyer present
- Request a copy of your statement, which insurers in California must provide in accordance with the 1964 decision Wilson v. Superior Court
- Do not volunteer any information beyond what is asked or over-explain your responses
- Ask the questioner to rephrase or explain any question you do not understand
- Do not admit fault
- Do not sign anything without consulting your lawyer first
Injured in Southern California? Know your rights
When you are injured in an auto accident, it may feel like everything starts moving at warp speed. Between doctor’s visits, police reports, and calls from the other party’s insurance company, you may not have time to think about how to protect your rights. However, by contacting a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, you can put a buffer between yourself and the chaos.
At Ellis Law, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of personal injury victims. Once you sign on with us, we handle the communications with the other parties, insurance companies, and the courts so you can focus on getting better. We listen to your concerns and formulate a legal strategy to maximize a settlement or verdict. Ellis Law is committed to serving you where you are – we have offices in Los Angeles as well as throughout Southern California. Call today to schedule a free consultation. Remember, we never charge a legal fee unless and until we win money on your behalf.