There are a number of reasons why you should consider not giving a statement to the insurance adjuster after you’ve been in a car accident. If you’ve been in a car crash in Burlington, Middlebury, or anywhere else in Vermont, it’s likely that the insurance company for the other driver will call and ask to take a statement from you.
What happens when an accident claim is reported?
Once the claim is reported, you’ll get a phone call from an insurance adjuster asking to hear what happened. And wanting to know your side of the events that took place, whether you went to the hospital and called the police or EMS.
The adjuster will want to get you on the phone, or sometimes even in person, and will typically record your answers to their questions.
Twisting your words
With limited exceptions, this is going to be a bad idea for you to participate. What you say to an adjuster in an interview about how you got hurt can be used against you. This is particularly true if you got out of the car without assistance, or you decided that you didn’t need to take an ambulance to the hospital right away.
In most cases, there’s a really good reason why people choose not to take an ambulance away from the scene of an accident. But these are facts that insurance companies grab onto when they’re trying to deny your claim by arguing that you really weren’t very hurt at all.
Even a short phone call can be really dangerous to your case or claim.
The adjuster doesn’t need to talk to you
The insurance adjuster will probably tell you that he or she really needs to talk to you so that they can move your claim along and that they can’t do that without talking to you. But this is simply not true. You might be surprised to learn that accident lawyers settle many cases in which our clients have never once spoken to an insurance adjuster.
A recorded statement given to an insurance adjuster serves no legal purpose and it can only hurt you in the end.
That’s because if your case goes to court, the defense lawyer is going to get a chance to ask you questions under oath.
In Burlington and in Middlebury, Vermont, we call that a deposition. In Plattsburgh, New York, it’s called an EBT or Examination Before Trial. The point being you don’t want to give an insurance company two opportunities to hear from you before trial.
Because anytime you give two separate statements, which are often separated by months or years, there are going to be small differences in what you say. And this is where insurance companies and their lawyers are going to try to discredit you.
Example of how a statement to an adjuster can hurt your car crash claim
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re on the witness stand and you testify that your neck and your back hurt because of the accident, but when you spoke to the adjuster two weeks after the accident, you forgot to tell them that your neck hurt.
Now, the defense lawyer is going to try to make you look bad and claim that you’re making up the neck injury, simply because you forgot to tell the adjuster about it when giving your statement, not realizing that it was gonna come back to bite you years later.
When our clients give testimony, or if we decide to allow them to give a statement to an insurance company, we spend a lot of time preparing for it.
For example, one of the things that we spend time going over is the difference between estimating and guessing. We talk about how to spot trick phrases used by insurance lawyers and how to honestly answer questions without harming your case.
If you know us at Champlain Valley Law, we do a lot of client work remotely. That’s one of the things we’re known for, but preparing to give testimony is one of the few areas where we invest a lot of time in person with you.
Whether you need to come to our office in Burlington, Middlebury or Plattsburgh, we’ll meet with you as many as four or five times before you give testimony. And we won’t let you give any testimony until you are well-prepared and completely confident.
Now, all that being said, if you choose to give a statement to an insurance adjuster, you have a right to get a copy of the statement that you give. Make sure that you ask for it and read it and make sure that what’s written down accurately reflects what you told that adjuster during your phone call.
Summary: Why you probably don’t need to talk to the other company’s insurance company
In summary, giving a recorded statement to an insurance company after a car crash is usually not helpful. It’s not necessary and can hurt your case in the end. If at all possible, discuss the idea with a lawyer and be prepared if you decide to eventually give a statement.
If you’ve already given a statement, get a copy, read it and make sure it’s accurate. I hope you found today’s article helpful. If you would like to Drew about your injury, claim or lawsuit, please give our Vermont or New York office a call.