Providing a recorded statement to an insurance company following a Texas auto accident can definitely have a negative impact on your claim to compensation. You should always speak with an attorney prior to providing such a statement.
Why Do Insurance Companies Request Recorded Statements?
Like any for profit business, insurance companies are run with the goal of making money. One way of securing profits is to limit payouts to injured victims. A recorded statement is the first move of many that an insurance company will take to erode your claim and limit their driver’s liability.
Under Texas law, a recorded statement provided to an insurance company is admissible in court. This means that even though your statement was not made under oath, it will still carry considerable weight when brought before a judge or jury.
Providing a recorded statement to an insurance company can inadvertently damage your claim to compensations, which is exactly what the insurance company wants.
What Are Some Ways a Recorded Statement Can Affect My Texas Auto Accident Claim?
Insurance adjusters are familiar with claim procedures and motorist liability. When an insurance adjuster calls you with questions concerning your crash, they are looking for information that limits the liability of their driver and information that can be used to downplay the extent of your injuries. Remember, their job is not to help you make a full recovery, it is to make money for their employer and its shareholders.
Providing a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney can often result in:
- Potential for unintentional inconsistencies – Car crashes can be confusing and disorienting. Further, as time goes on, your recollection of the accident may fade. When an insurance company goes back to compare all the statements you made over a period of weeks or months, they will claim that any inconsistencies were attempts by you to mislead the company and label them as lies before a judge or a jury.
- Exposure to trick questions – The representative on the other end may ask leading questions or word their inquiries in a way meant to trick or trap you. You may even be pressured into agreeing to facts that are not completely accurate just to get the representative off your back. Even an aggravated response of “I don’t know, maybe” or “I guess” can come back to haunt you later.
- Exposure to leading statements – Even a statement that seems innocent on its surface can damage your claim depending on your response. For example, by giving a positive response to statements like “I hope your back is starting to feel a bit better” or “Wow, it’s a miracle you weren’t more seriously injured”, you could be tricked into understating the severity of your injuries.
- Failure to report undiagnosed injuries – Most doctors agree that the full extent of any injuries suffered in a car accident may not be evident until several days after an accident has occurred. If a claims adjuster contacts you within 24 hours of a crash and asks about your injuries, chances are you will not be able to provide a complete list of injuries. This will not stop the insurance company from questioning and attempting to dismiss any injuries that became symptomatic after that initial recorded statement was made.
- You providing material for cross-examination – By the time deposition or trial occurs, chances are the defense counsel will have reviewed your recorded statements dozens of times. They will craft questions for cross-examination with the understanding that you likely don’t remember everything you said or agreed to in that recorded statement. And when you misremember or contradict yourself in a moment of confusion, they will try to claim your misstatement proves your testimony is not credible.
What Should I Do if An Insurer Requests a Recorded Statement?
If you are contacted by the adverse driver’s insurer and they request a recorded statement, do not provide one. While you generally have a contractual duty to cooperate with your own insurer, there is no such requirement when it comes to other insurers. Do not feel pressured. You should also take the request as a sign that the insurer is trying to limit their liability and you potential compensation, and you should reach out to a personal injury attorney immediately.
Personal injury attorneys are familiar with the tactics used by insurance adjusted to dismantle the credibility of injured victims. An experienced attorney will help you outline a statement that accurately details the facts of an accident.
The attorney will also help identify questions that are meant to erode you claim and coach you on how to provide your statement in a concise way that leaves no room for interpretation.
Your attorney may also recommend that you:
- Request the statement not be recorded
- Avoid volunteering information
- Avoid personal information
- Avoid long explanations
- Provide a firm “I don’t know” when you don’t know something, as opposed “maybe” or “I guess that’s possible”
- Not answer questions unless you are absolutely sure what is being asked
- Avoid admitting fault
- Do not respond to any potentially leading statements or questions, even if they seem polite or innocent on the surface (i.e. How are you feeling?, I hope your back is feeling at least a little better, or Wow, it’s a miracle you weren’t more seriously injured).
- Provide a statement that preempts contributory negligence (i.e. I was traveling within the posted speed limit free of distraction and had the right-of-way when the crash occurred).
Finally, if your attorney determines that providing a recorded statement is not in you best interest, they may advise that you forgo submitting a statement all together.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Injured in a Car Crash?
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced auto accident attorneys have experience handling a multitude of injury accidents, no matter how severe the crash or injury. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages if another driver acted negligently. Our firm has the experienced lawyers and financial resources that you need to achieve the real results you deserve. Our team of injury attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends. If you cannot make it to our office, we can visit you at your home, in the hospital, or at work.