If you've been hurt in an accident and the insurance adjuster asks you to give a recorded statement, you should politely decline. You are not required by law to give a recorded statement.
What's a Recorded Statement?
A recorded statement is just as it sounds: a conversation with the insurance adjuster, often over the phone, where they ask you questions about your accident and you give them answers. Commonly, adjusters will start by asking you simple questions ("What's your name?" "What kind of car were you driving at the time of the accident?") and then slowly move on to trickier ones ("Do you have any prior injuries that might have resurfaced because of the accident?").
The purpose of a recorded statement is for an insurance company to get your side of the story on file. Unfortunately, recorded statements often work against you.
Why You Shouldn't Give the Insurance Adjuster a Recorded Statement
It works like this: If you were hurt in an accident that was someone else's fault, you'll file a claim through their insurance company. They caused the accident, so they're the ones who need to pay for your damages and injuries.
(If you aren't sure who's at-fault, you should start by reading my article: How to Determine Fault After an Accident).
The problem is that insurance companies lose money every time someone makes a claim. They know that the less they have to pay out in claims, the more they get to keep in profit. Unfortunately, this creates some skewed incentives.
When you file a claim against the at-fault party (the person who caused the accident), the insurance company will begin to look for ways to reduce the value of your claim or better yet, to deny your claim all together. They might try to pin the blame for the accident on you, or they might try to dig into old medical records to show that your injuries weren't a direct result of the accident.
A recorded statement is a tactic insurance adjusters use to devalue your case. They'll ask you tricky questions to try to make you say the wrong thing, and since they have it recorded, they can use your answers against you later. Common examples of tricky questions include questions about your past medical history (preexisting injuries can hurt your case) or questions about what you said to the other person after the accident - like if you apologized (whether or not the accident was your fault).
I wish things were different, but this is the way it is. If you want to avoid potentially hurting your injury case, don't ever give a recorded statement.
What Happens If You Already Gave a Recorded Statement?
This is one of the first things I ask my clients when they walk through my door: did you give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement? If they say yes, I immediately request a copy of the statement to see what damage has been done. At this point, a lot of what happens next depends on what you said.
Sometimes, accident victims give a recorded statement and it doesn't hurt their case at all. In other situations, the recorded statement could go either way. Unfortunately, I've seen situations where a case was ruined because an accident victim gave too much away, particularly when talking about preexisting injuries. No matter if your prior injury happened a decade ago and hasn't bothered you for years, if you mention it, the insurance adjusters will latch onto that information and try to use it against you.
What's the Next Step?
If you gave a recorded statement and you're worried about the repercussions, I'd advise you to consult a personal injury attorney. The initial consultation should be free. An attorney can tell you definitively where your case stands and how much money you deserve for your accident and injuries.
Not sure hiring a lawyer is right for you? I've written a helpful article to help you figure it out. You can find that article here.
If you were hurt in an accident in the Fort Worth area and you're looking for an attorney to guide you through the next steps, don't hesitate to contact us. We're available by phone or 24/7 live chat to answer your questions, and we offer free consultations.