Tips for Statements to Insurance Companies
Giving a statement to an insurance company can have significant ramifications for your injury case. Learn why you should take these statements seriously.
Statements to Insurance CompaniesWhether a car accident, slip and fall, animal injury, or otherwise, if you have been injured get ready for phone calls. Many people will call you on behalf of a number of insurance companies. These people will want to know what happened, who witnessed it, whether you were hurt and other information. They want your statements. Everyone is looking out for their interests. Who is looking out for yours?
Information requested by insurance adjusters helps their investigation of your claim. This does not mean it helps you. Insurance companies are for-profit companies. They make money by collecting premiums. Paying claims cuts into profits so they want to limit that exposure.
Types of StatementsThere are generally three types of statements people are asked to give - recorded, unrecorded and statements under oath. As the names suggest, one of these statements is recorded by the insurance company while another one is not, but it is meticulously noted. The third is completed outside of court but the injury victim takes an oath to swear to tell the truth nonetheless.
Want to know what they found out? Too bad! While there is a Rule that requires the at-fault carrier to produce your statement if a lawsuit is filed, there is no such requirement before a lawsuit. Since insurance companies do not like sharing this information, it often becomes a fight to obtain these.
Common MistakesNot taking the statement seriously. Insurance adjusters who take victim statements are paid professionals. Injury victims are not. These statements will often be used to justify the adjuster's later actions.
Talking with any insurance company that asks. There are insurance companies you should speak with.* There are also insurance companies you should not.* Providing a statement to the wrong insurance company can hurt you case and rarely helps.
Talking to insurance companies too early. Injury victims are often nervous when giving statements and try to abbreviate the information because it is a high-pressure situation. Most people have never experienced this before. In addition, insurance companies do not provide any documents (such as medical records) which may help refresh their recollections if they misspeak or forget some information. As a result, it is not uncommon for victims to miss a pain complaint they have when asked about their injuries. In fact, this is so common the State of Florida passed an administrative code prohibiting taking statements of injury victims when they would still be expected to be in mental or emotional distress due to traumatic injury.
Not consulting an attorney and/or having their attorney present for the statements. This allows the insurance company to take advantage of the injury victim. It also allows an insurance company to utilize inaccurate and/or incomplete statements, or statements taken out of context. By failing to speak with an attorney, injury victims expose themselves to providing unnecessary statements and incomplete information.
Example: Simple rear end car crash. Our injury victim is injured because someone operated their vehicle negligently. There are two different insurance companies involved. First, the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Second, the insurance company for the injury victim. Both companies ask for recorded statements of the injury victim. Who should the injury victim talk to? The answer is, usually, only the injury victim's insurance company. Therefore, by talking to the at-fault insurance company, the injury victim has unnecessarily provided them with information that can be weaponized against the injury victim.
Protecting Yourself1. Hire an attorney. This point cannot be emphasized enough. Your attorney will look out for your interests.
2. Find out which insurance company is asking for your statement. There is no legal obligation to speak to the at-fault driver's insurance company.
3. Schedule the statement for a later date. This will allow you time to retain an attorney or to gather your thoughts.
4. Be Concise. This is harder than it sounds. Do not give more information than is necessary to respond.
5. If asked about your injuries, be honest but understand you are not a doctor and injuries can worsen over time. As such, you may not know the full extent of your injuries for some time.
6. Take notes. Write down the questions you were asked, and your responses.
7. Hire an attorney. This cannot be overemphasized.
Statements are serious matters. Injury victims should treat them as such.