Are you Required to Provide a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Company?
Insurance companies use a lot of tactics to try to diminish the value of an accident injury claim against one of their insureds, and one of them is to ask the injured person for a recorded statement about the accident. This might seem like a perfectly reasonable request – your chance to give your version of events. They might even imply that you are required to give such a statement, otherwise it could delay the processing of your claim.
So, are you really required to provide a recorded statement to an insurance company?
If it is not your own insurer, then no, you are not required to go on the record. Furthermore, we do not recommend providing a statement to the other party’s insurer without speaking with an attorney first. This statement will not be used to exonerate you, they will only use it to damage your claim.
How a Recorded Statement Can Hurt Your Accident Injury Claim
The insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate and settle claims in a way that saves their company as much money as possible. A recorded statement can help them do that in a number of ways:
Admission of Fault
If the adjuster can get you to admit even partial responsibility for the accident, it could seriously jeopardize your claim. This is especially true in a state like Virginia where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, a claimant can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% responsible for the underlying accident or event.
Even if you do not outright admit fault, adjusters may ask leading questions that can trap you into a veiled admission of responsibility, which could be interpreted as showing partial guilt for the accident. This is why you should never apologize, express regret, or admit fault to anyone after an auto accident.
Denial of Serious Injury
Another way that a recorded statement can diminish the value of a claim is by locking you into statements that tend to downplay your injuries. This is one of the reasons they will often ask for the statement within just a few days of the accident. At this point, you may not know the full extent of your injuries, because some symptoms do not manifest themselves until later on, and you may not have had all of the medical exams needed to get a full diagnosis.
If they ask you how you are feeling during the interview and you say something like “I feel fine” or “everything is generally okay”, for example, then these statements could be used against you later on if it turns out that your injuries are worse than you initially realized.
Inconsistencies in Your Account of Events
Picking up on the last point, giving a recorded statement to the insurance company puts you on the record. So, if you say something different later on (such as that your injuries are more serious than you first thought), this could be used to poke holes in your credibility. A few days after an auto accident, an injured person is usually still a bit confused and disoriented, and this could definitely affect the answers that you give to an insurance adjuster. You may forget something, leave out an important detail, or something similar, which could be used to say that your testimony is not reliable.
Obtaining Personal Information
Be very wary about opening up to insurance adjusters who talk like they are your best friend. Oftentimes, they are fishing for personal information that they could use against you. For example, maybe you have been having financial difficulties lately and you let the adjuster know that you could really use the settlement money. By admitting this during a statement, you might end up with a lower settlement offer because they know you need the money.
What to Do if You are Asked to Give a Recorded Statement
If an insurance company asks you for a recorded statement, the best thing to do is politely decline and let them know that you will need to speak with an attorney first. No matter how much they ty to pressure you into going on the record now, it is never a good idea to do this without having your case reviewed by an attorney and being informed of your legal rights and options.
If your accident happened in Virginia, Buck, Toscano & Terezkerz is here to help. Call our office at 205-968-1302 or message us online to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.