Recorded Statements in an Auto Accident Case
If you are ever in an auto accident, you will soon receive a call from an insurance adjuster. That adjuster will be calling on behalf of the other party‘s insurance company. The adjuster will ask and sometimes insist that you give a recorded statement regarding the accident.
To get immediately to the point, despite the suggestion by the adjuster to the contrary, a recorded statement is voluntary. You do not have to give one. This leads to point number 2:
DO NOT GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT!
What is a recorded statement in an auto accident case? It‘s a statement to an insurance adjuster in which you give facts about how the accident happened, as well as some personal information about yourself.
Keep in mind that anything you say to the insurance adjuster can later be used against you. The reason you do not give a recorded statement is not because you have anything to hide. It is because the question can be confusing, the adjuster is a professional (and has done this many times before and you have not), the adjuster has no interest in protecting your rights and the adjuster‘s job is to keep the payments by the insurer to a minimum.
In most cases, there simply is no reason to give a recorded statement. There are exceptions where it might be advisable depending on the case, the insurance company, the particular adjuster and other circumstances. But only an experienced attorney will be able to advise you on when the recorded statement may be to your advantage.
There are a couple of key points to keep in mind when asked for a recorded statement. Never even consider giving a recorded statement until you first speak to an attorney. Until your attorney has advised you otherwise, politely turn down the insurance company‘s request for the recorded statement. Since your statement can be used against you, you don‘t want to answer any questions on tape. Your responses can be misconstrued if the adjuster‘s question is unclear or open-ended.
The recorded statement is voluntary. Don‘t let the insurance adjuster convince you otherwise. In some cases, an insurance contract can contain a “cooperation clause.” This is a provision in an insurance policy that can compel the “insured to assist the insurer in defending claims under that policy.” It does not apply to the other party (i.e. you). And even under a cooperation clause for the at-fault driver, a recorded statement remains voluntary. Do not let the insurance adjuster suggest otherwise in order to induce your recorded statement. The adjuster has no duty to you and therefore has no duty to inform you of your rights. And you cannot later complain that you did not understand your right to refuse the recorded statement.
In sum, the insurance adjuster is not your friend no matter how nice or concerned he or she seems. The recorded statement is not for your benefit or protection no matter what may be suggested to the contrary. Anything you say can and will be used against you later. This may sound familiar but there are no Miranda rights in these cases and the adjuster has no duty to protect your interest, his duty is to his insured.
So again, DO NOT GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT!
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