Attorney Scott Sandler on Why You Don’t Give a Statement to the Opposing Insurer After a Car Accident
If you become injured in an auto accident that was the fault of another driver, don’t be surprised if an adjuster from the opposing insurance company phones you “just to see if you’re doing any better now.” That adjuster might seem friendly and sympathetic, but the purpose of that phone call is to obtain a recorded statement about how the accident happened and whether you sustained any injuries. You might not think that anything could go wrong if you give a statement, mainly because the accident wasn’t your fault, but indeed, any number of things can go wrong.
That’s why accident victims should not give any statement to an opposing insurer after an accident without an experienced personal injury lawyer being present.
Auto insurance companies make money and pay dividends to their shareholders by cashing premium checks. Then, they pay as little as possible or even nothing on claims; even though, you sustained a significant injury in the accident. That’s why their objective is to pay out the minimum amount possible (preferably nothing) on claims.
No law requires an accident victim to give a statement of any kind to an opposing insurance company. The adjuster who asks for one already knows how the accident happened. He or she has a copy of the police report in your claim file. That report details exactly how your accident occurred. The actual purpose of the statement is to attempt to devalue your claim by attacking your credibility when the opposing insurer uses your own words against you in the future. Here’s how they go about trying to do that.
The opposing adjuster will ask you questions that already have the answers within them. They’ll assume facts that aren’t accurate, and in your efforts to remain civil and polite, you won’t dispute the questions. You’ll be agreeing with a version of events that isn’t wholly accurate. When you answer the leading question, the company can use your answer against you in the future. You unknowingly walked right into a trap. When they compare that question and your answer with other similar inquiries in a deposition or trial, a well-prepared insurance defense attorney will raise any inconsistent answers. You might think that any inconsistencies are insignificant, but prior contradictory statements will probably be used against you to attack your credibility. The rules of evidence permit that.
You have a contractual duty to cooperate with your auto insurer. If your insurer wants a statement from you, it is permissible to give it, but you should have your attorney present for the statement as well.
After being injured in an accident, never give any statement to an opposing insurance company, their investigators or their lawyers. The law doesn’t require you to provide a statement.
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