Should I Give a Statement to the Insurance Company After an Accident?
The short answer - do not speak with the insurer until after you consult with an expert attorney.
After an injury accident, you must file a claim with the responsible insurance company. Generally, within a few days of filing your claim, an insurance adjuster will call you and ask you about the incident and your injuries. This is the typical procedure for injury claims of any kind, including automobile, trip and fall, premises liability or other, where you are pursuing your legal rights for compensation due to the negligence of another.
You should not make a statement to the insurer without an attorney on the line with you or physically present with you. The insurance adjuster may sound like a kind person who is genuinely sympathetic with your plight, but remember, the adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money. This means paying you nothing or as little as possible. The process of denying, delaying or low balling your claim often begins with you providing a statement.
Pitfalls of Giving a Statement to the Insurer
When the adjuster calls to take your statement, you will generally be asked to grant permission for the adjuster to record your statement. If you agree, the statement will then be transcribed and become part of the record. In your inexperienced, and possibly naive attempt, to be as forthright as possible, there are some traps into which you will likely fall.
- Responding to leading questions. The adjuster may ask something like, “Do you think you may have been going a little too fast around that corner?” You may truly believe you were not going too fast, but can fall into a trap of saying something as simple as, “Maybe.” This will be used against you later as a partial admission of fault.
You may respond, “Pretty good” to a question phrased “How are you feeling today?” You may mean, “Pretty good considering I almost died” or “Pretty good now that I know my leg will not be amputated.” All the adjuster hears is, “Pretty good,” indicating your injury was not as serious as you claim.
- Responding to ambiguous and open-ended questions. A simple, “Tell me how the accident happened?” may open the floodgates to you responding to questions not even asked. You may say something like, “I was thinking about my upcoming trip” which indicates to the adjuster that you were preoccupied and may have been at least partially responsible for the accident.
- Another question may be posed asking you to estimate how fast you or the other driver were traveling. It is never, ever, a good idea to estimate. Accidents happen so quickly that it is difficult to impossible to know true speeds. The other driver may have been going much faster than your estimate, but you have now locked into claiming a speed that may not be accurate.
You will also be asked the extent of your injuries and how long you think it will take you to recover. A few days after an accident is generally not enough time to know the answers to these questions. You may be injured more seriously than you think. You may think you are not hurt at all the day or two after an accident, only to discover later that you were, indeed, injured. Soft tissue injuries, like whiplash for example, do not show up immediately and often present themselves days after an accident. And such injuries often become worse over time without adequate rest and treatment.
Your attorney will investigate the accident, obtain the police report and determine, based on evidence, how fast you and the other were driving, if speed is relevant to the resolution of the case. Your attorney will also obtain your medical records and statements concerning your injury, proposed recovery time and information about how long you will be off of work and even if you will be able to return to work.
- You are likely required by your insurance contract to give a statement. Although most insurance policies require the injured party to “cooperate” with the investigation, this does not mean you are required to give a statement to an adjuster without the presence of your attorney.
If you were injured in any type of accident, contact our personal injury insurance attorneys at the Blumenshine Law Group prior to giving a statement to an insurance adjuster. We have been assisting our clients with their insurance claims and lawsuits for many years. We can protect you because we know the tricks that may be played on an unsuspecting, inexperienced accident victim.
We offer a free, no obligation consultation. We can meet by phone or email. If you are unable to come to us, we can arrange to visit you at a place of your convenience. Contact us as soon as possible after your injury accident in order to arm yourself with information and input from experienced attorneys.