A car crash can really disrupt your week. Even if it doesn’t end up with a trip to the hospital, you have a laundry list of things to do just to get back to normal. You need to file a police report, go to the doctor, get your car repaired, contact your insurance company, and discuss your crash with an attorney. But there’s one thing you should never do after a car crash and that’s providing a recorded statement.
What is a Recorded Statement
Most insurance policies require that you report a crash within 24 hours of the incident. When you do, the insurance company might ask you to provide an official recorded statement of what happened. They’ll claim it’s a just so you can tell your side of the story. In reality, it’s usually a trap.
A recorded statement is just a series of questions from the insurance adjuster, but those questions are worded in such a way to elicit a certain response. Worst of all, most people don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
Using Your Words Against You
More often than not, a recorded statement isn’t used to tell your side of the story, but to shift fault onto you and deprive you of the compensation you need to move forward. It has to do with the very nature of our state insurance laws.
Missouri is a comparative negligence state, meaning that your insurance settlement is garnished in proportion to your fault. If you’re awarded a $100,000 settlement, but the insurance company determines that you’re 25% responsible, you’d only receive $75,000.
The insurance companies have an incentive to shift as much fault onto you as possible. To that end, they can use a recorded statement to twist your words and assign you a greater degree of fault.
For example, if you say, “I didn’t even see him coming,” the insurance company might argue that you admit you weren’t paying attention. With no evidence except that single sentence, they’ll assign you a higher degree of fault, claiming the crash could have been avoided if you were more aware of your surroundings.
An equally frightening trap is when the insurance adjuster asks how you’re feeling. If you give any indication that the crash hasn’t left you in pain, the insurance companies might offer lower compensation, claiming (without evidence) that your injuries aren’t as bad as the initial claim suggests.
The moral of the story is this: There is nothing to be gained from a recorded statement. It is a trap to increase your liability and reduce your payout. Just remember, the insurance company is not on your side. Your goal of a fair recovery is at odds with their goal of keeping as much money as possible.
Handling a Recorded Statment Request
If the insurance company asks for a recorded statement, you have the right to refuse. Don’t let them intimidate you. Some insurance adjusters will claim they can’t authorize a rental car until you provide a statement. Others will go so far as to claim that you’re legally required to provide a recorded statement. The truth is that you don’t have to do anything until you’ve consulted your attorney.
Hiring an attorney is the best way to avoid insurance companies’ traps. Whether it’s handling recorded statements or arguing for more just compensation, a skilled auto injury attorney knows their way through the maze of insurance claims. They can handle all the back and forth while you rest and recover.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash and need help fighting the insurance companies, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney from Kolker Law Firm to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (314) 684-8285.