Unfortunately, giving a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company can be a mistake.
After someone is injured in a car accident and calls the insurance company to report their claim, the insurance adjuster usually asks for a recorded oral statement and may even attempt to settle the car accident case.
Here are some reasons why giving the insurance company a recorded statement is not a good idea and tips for handling your claim.
First, other than determining what exactly occurred in the crash there is no rule or requirement that the injured person provide a recorded statement to the adverse insurance company.
What to do When the Adjuster Wants a Recorded Statement After a Car Accident?
Many adjusters will try to bully their way to obtain a recorded statement by saying things like: “I can’t process the claim without it”, or “without a recorded statement we will close the file”.
These statements tend to intimidate the personal injury victim who ends up giving a recorded statement. That statement will be used against them. The questions are asked by someone who is trained to obtain information that may be useful in defending the case or denying the claim. But giving a statement can hurt a claim.
If the insurance company is your company, you may have a duty to provide a recorded statement. However, talking with a car accident lawyer in Houston, Texas before you give a statement to the insurance company is recommended.
Recorded Statements Only Hurt Your Claim
Understand that if you do give a recorded statement everything that you say in the statement can be used against you at trial. Your recorded statement cannot help you at trial, but it certainly can hurt you. Car accident attorneys know how defense attorneys use the recorded statement you provided to the insurance company.
If you feel compelled to give the adjuster information regarding the accident, consider refusing a recorded statement instead letting the adjuster take notes. The odds of this being used against you are much less because the adjuster would have to appear at trial as a witness.
Adjusters are Trained on What Questions to Ask After an Auto Accident
Many insurance companies send their adjusters to classes to learn how to elicit responses that are helpful in the defense of their case. While the adjuster may be simply trying to gather information, some adjusters clearly are attempting to create defenses by the way they asked their questions.
Questions with built-in assumptions such as “when did you first see the car” are used to help defend the case and argue for shifting responsibility if the case gets to a trial.
The insurance company may about your injuries. The trap is when providing a recorded statement when you do not know the extent of your injury or needed medical care. Personal injury attorneys know it is not good to describe your thoughts on an injury before you are done being treated by your doctors.
Questions Insurance Companies ask on Causation of the Accident
One area that adjusters always inquire about in recorded statements is how you perceive the accident. Often, they are asked leading questions such as “when did you first hit your brakes?” Or “when did you first see the other vehicle?” or “what invasive actions did you take?” In each of these instances, they are assuming facts that may not be accurate.
Obviously, they are hoping that they can gather admissions from your which man able them to shift responsibility at least in part to you for the crash.
Texas is a comparable responsibility jurisdiction, meaning that everybody’s actions are measured to determine fault in a crash. To the extent that the victim has some negligence attributable to them it generally reduces their recovery amount of money recovered in the case.
Should I Accept an Injury Settlement Offer Verbally?
Do not accept any offer of settlement while your medical prognosis and treatment are up in the air. Settling when you are not one hundred percent sure of your injury and recovery, only shifts the risk of loss.
Oral Settlements Agreements May be Binding in Texas
If the adjuster makes an oral offer and it is accepted, that acceptance may be binding on you. Even if your medical expenses are far greater than anticipated when you accepted. A recent Texas court has held that oral settlement agreements contained in a recorded statement or enforceable against the victim.
At the very minimum, if the other adjuster calls and you have sustained serious injuries you should speak with a qualified personal injury attorney prior to giving any recorded statement.
Injury Cases are Separate from Property Damage Claims
Most car crash claims are separated into property damage and personal injury. One adjuster will handle the property damage in a separate adjuster will handle the personal injury claim.
Liability must be determined for an adjuster to pay a claim. But, in many cases, liability is clear, and a recorded statement is not necessary to fix liability. An example is a person struck from the rear while stopped at a red light.
Property Damage Claims Settlement Tips
Dealing with your property damage can be made much simpler by following the following guidelines:
- If your vehicle is repairable take it to the shop that you trust to fix it properly and let the shop deal directly with the adverse insurance company regarding the costs.
- If your vehicle is totaled, go online or to your dealer to get a realistic value for your vehicle, and be prepared with these facts when you discuss the amount your car is worth with the adjuster. In this case, the fair market value will be increased for tax title and license fees which the insurance company must also reimburse you.
Personal Injury Claims Settlement Guidelines
We always advise victims never to consider settlement or payment of any sort because they’re still being treated for their injuries.
In very serious crashes, the insurance company frequently pushes for an early settlement open to shifting the risk of loss for extended treatment from their burden to yours. Quick settlements with treatment ongoing are never a good idea.
Wait Until You Get a Handle on Your Diagnosis
If you have not seen a specialist and are still experiencing problems, do not assume that your injury is simply what was diagnosed in the emergency room. Many more sophisticated tests such as CT scans or MRIs can reveal a diagnosis that was unavailable to the emergency room physicians because they did not run these more sophisticated test procedures.
Be very wary of questions about “all your injuries” when you do not know the extent of your injuries at the time the adjuster inquires. You are not a doctor and emergency room treatment is for emergencies and not ongoing help.
Do not get caught in the trap of telling the adjuster your injuries when you do not know the extent of them.
Helpful Auto Crash Claims Tips Summary
- Do not give a recorded statement to the adverse adjuster. If you feel compelled to give information to the adjuster insist, that it is taken orally and not recorded.
- If your car is repairable, have the shop you choose to deal directly with the adverse insurance company regarding payment and repairs.
- If your car is totaled, be prepared to name your fair market value number based on facts that support your valuation of the vehicle. Be prepared to negotiate.
- Do not consider a settlement while you were still being treated for your injuries unless your statute of limitations is approaching.
- Consult with a personal injury lawyer if you have any questions about your injury claim process
If you have Questions About an Auto Accident Injury Claim- Call Us.
The Baumgartner Law Firm has been trusted by crash victims for decades. Call to speak to an experienced auto accident injury attorney. Call us for a free consultation.
Call (281) 587-1111