Many people view contacting an attorney as a last resort – an action that should be taken if the insurer of the negligent party fails to offer fair compensation. This is an unfortunate misconception. While you are taking the “wait and see” approach, the insurance company has representative and lawyers actively working to limit their financial liability.
Insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind. While they may seem cooperative while on the phone, behind the scenes they are doing everything they can to undermine your claim.
A common example of this is the “recorded statement.” The adjuster will claim that providing a recorded statement for reference will help them resolve you claim faster. What they won’t tell you is that they will compare the recorded statement to future conversations for inconsistencies, nor will they tell you that the recorded statement you are providing can be used against you in court.
Providing a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney can often result in:
Unintentional inconsistencies – Accidents that result in injury are hectic and disorienting. As time moves on, you will likely remember less and less about the events leading up to and following an accident. 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 – Representatives often ask trick 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 an accident may not be evident until several days after the accident has occurred. If a claims adjuster contacts you within 24 hours of an accident 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.
Provide 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.