The short answer is “Absolutely not.” At least, not without first consulting with a lawyer. And, if you called me, I would still tell you “No.”
You might ask “What’s the big deal?” “I have nothing to hide.” That’s not the point. You might not have anything to hide. But you do not know what questions are going to be asked, how they are going to be phrased, and how your answers may come across on the recording.
Once they have you on tape saying something, you cannot take it back.
The Insurance Adjuster is Asking for my Recorded Statement.
Insurance adjusters are very quick to call and get a recorded statement from you. They may call you within a day to two of the accident. Why? Because they know they have a better chance of getting your statement before you consult with an attorney. Most, if not all, personal injury attorneys in Dallas will refuse a request to take a recorded statement of their clients.
Insurance adjusters know this. So, they contact you very early before you know any better not to give one. They will even go so far as to say “Your statement is required as part of the investigation.” No, it is not! The adjuster can conduct their investigation simply by talking to the drivers and witnesses, or reviewing the police report. But they want to record you in the hopes that you will say something that they can bring up and use against you later on in your claim.
It’s really the oldest trick in the book. Recorded statements were very common when I first started in the mid 1990’s as a young Dallas personal injury lawyer. But, I quickly discovered that these recorded statements were hurting many of my cases. So, I stopped allowing them.
If you get a call from an adjuster requesting your statement about an accident, just be polite and excuse yourself from the call. Don’t fall for it.
How Does a Recorded Statement Hurt my Case?
Let’s consider an example. You are asked a simple question: “Did you see the other vehicle before the collision.” Many people who have just been in a accident will feel the urge to give a dramatic response, such as: “No, I never saw him coming!” Or, you might even say “Everything happened so fast, it’s was all a blur.”
So, what have you done with these responses? Well, since you said that you never saw the other car prior to the impact, then it might be difficult for you to testify about how the accident happened. You would be unable to testify about things like the direction of the other vehicle, it’s approximate speed, any erratic maneuvers it took, etc.
I have clients that always feel compelled to give answers like this. In fact, most of my clients did see the other vehicle coming. Even if it is for a split-second before the impact, you are now able to tell your side of the story about what the other vehicle was doing wrong.
And, it’s not just about the event surrounding the accident. The questions may also deal with the injury before many of your symptoms are discovered or come to the surface.
These are just a few examples of how adjusters use your responses in a recorded statement to discredit your claim. The best way to avoid this is to keep your story to yourself until you consult with an attorney.
My Insurance Company vs. The Other Insurance Company.
There is a difference when you are dealing with your own insurance company as opposed to the other driver’s insurance. For instance, if you are making some sort of claim on your insurance, such as for Personal Injury Protection or Uninsured Motorist benefits, then you might have an obligation to give a recorded statement. That is because your policy requires it.
But, since you are not the policy-holder on the other driver’s insurance, you have absolutely no legal obligation to give a recorded statement to them.
Most of the time, I am able to convince my client’s own insurance company to withhold taking a recorded statement. I just tell them “Why would you want to put your own policy-holder on the spot and jeopardize everyone’s ability to get reimbursed from the other insurance company.” When I put it that way, they tend to understand my position. If they still insist on getting a statement, I can usually convince them to accept a written statement. At least this way my client and I can work on it together and there are no surprises in the answers that come out.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Early.
Giving a recorded statement is just one example of an important mistake that can happen in a case. And, it is something that happens very early in the case. That is why it is so important to talk to a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney at the very beginning. Your attorney is on your side. Since your attorney works on a contingency-fee basis, then your attorney wins only if you win. The opposite is true with the insurance company: They win only if you lose. So, who will you trust?