April 03, 2019

Auto insurance companies have two goals: to make money and lots of it. In order to do that, they must settle personal injury claims for the least amount of money and in the fastest way possible.

Adjusters are trained experts at reducing the bottom line.

In order to get you to settle for less than you deserve, and quickly, they will look for ways to intimidate you or discredit you. Enter stage left…the “recorded statement”.

A recorded statement involves the adjustor recording your statement taken with your permission. The adjustor may take your recorded statement either in person, but it is usually taken by phone. He or she will then take your recorded statement and weaken your discussion to a “summary”. These “summaries” are not a report written up by a disinterested court reporter, but by a potential party in a lawsuit. Out-of-court recorded statements by you are not considered hearsay and are admissible.

What you say, can and will be used against you.

Your Insurance In some circumstances, you and your insurance company are on the same team. They don’t want to accept liability for your accident because that would require them to pay the other drivers property damage and personal injury claims. However, if you have PIP or need UIM benefits, then there is potential for an adversarial relationship. Even though your policy allows your insurance company to recover all they have paid out to you from the at-fault insurance company, they may look for ways to reduce their financial responsibility to you. Unfortunately, most insurance policies require you to cooperate with your insurance company while it investigates the accident and processes your claim.

The Other Insurance You’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Within a few days you will receive a call from the other driver’s insurance adjuster. He or she is so friendly and seems so nice and all they need before he can pay you is a brief statement to “firm up liability”. It feels like they just want to have a casual conversation and you want to be helpful and cooperative.

What could go wrong? Plenty!

There is no law in Washington state that requires the injured person to give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the driver who is potentially at fault. As a general rule, you should not give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance company without the assistance of an attorney. You shouldn’t give an “oral statement” either. Make no mistake, insurance company employees are trained professionals and will ask questions worded in such a way that are designed to hurt your case.

  1. They are highly trained to get you to understate the extent of your injuries, the severity of the impact and the nature of the collision. They will ask you leading questions to corner you into a position that they will use against you of the duration of negotiations and litigation. You may think you will be better in a few days but as the months go by, you are still being impacted by your injuries…but you told the adjuster you thought you would be just fine.

  2. They will compare the statement you gave them from leading questions with other statements you have made, including statements you gave an investigating police officer or statements you made during your deposition in a lawsuit arising from the accident. Where they find inconsistencies in your multiple statements, the company will claim you lied and may deny your claim. In a lawsuit, defense counsel can use your recorded statement to impeach your testimony at trial or during your deposition and attack your credibility. You may not remember exactly what you said in your statement. As a result, you may contradict yourself in some minor way and while you may think the discrepancy is trivial, the defendant’s lawyer will attempt it to convince the jury that your not credible

  3. The trained insurance representative knows how to frame questions in ways that can lead you to make a potentially incriminating statement, or at least cause you to paint yourself into a corner. For example, the adjuster might ask how long the stoplight was on yellow when you entered the intersection, and whether you saw it turn to red. People, without the assistance of an attorney, often do not realize the significance of the nuanced questions and the dangers lurking from a casual answer.

The bottom line is that you should never give a recorded statement without the help of an attorney. Always keep in mind that the insurance company is looking out for their bottom line, not yours.

Get Help! Once a personal injury lawyer takes over your case, the adjustor’s job becomes a lot more difficult as the claim demand is brought in line with what it is truly worth. It will also be more difficult and more time consuming to take your recorded or signed statement because your lawyer will need to be present during any communications with the adjustor.

With the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, your attorney can help you determine the rare instances where it may actually be beneficial to give a recorded statement…because there are some. But more importantly, your lawyer can help prepare you for the recorded statement and insure you are not making careless mistake that damage your case. Proper preparation can be the difference between a nice settlement and a denial of your claim.

Call Advocates Law Group, PLLC today to schedule your Free Case Evaluation at (253)733-0035