If you were in a car accident, your insurance company or the other driver’s may ask you to make a recorded statement. At Miller & Zois, we represent victims of negligent driving, not at-fault drivers. Below, we explain how car accident victims should answer requests for recorded statements from insurance companies.
In general, providing a recorded statement to an insurance company, especially without a lawyer, will hurt your chances of getting a fair settlement.
For one, speaking under pressure is hard. Victims may forget details of the car accident or misunderstand a question. Language that people use in their everyday speech may carry unintended meanings in a court setting.
Insurance adjusters represent the interests of their company, not you, and getting statements from victims unexperienced in how these cases work is one of the strategies that helps insurance companies pay less money than accident victims deserve.
Am I Required to Give a Statement?
The first and most important question is, are you required to provide a recorded statement? This depends on whose insurance company is asking. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company asks you to give a statement, you can simply refuse to do so.
You may want to refer this insurance company to your attorney for the rare circumstance when it makes sense to provide them with a statement. One example of when it may be a good idea to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company is if the at-fault driver has refused to speak or has lied to their insurance company. In such instances, the insurance company will be unaware of who was at fault, your injuries, and damage to your car.
However, generally speaking, it is to the insurance company’s advantage, not yours, if they have such a statement. Unfortunately, the aim of insurance companies is to give out as little money as possible, and they will look for anything in your statement that they can use against you.
If your own insurance company asks for a statement, the rules are less clear in Maryland. You have a contractual obligation to cooperate with your insurance company. Though your insurance company may require you to make a statement, the permissibility of this requirement is an open question in Maryland law.
Still, it is best to report your accident and cooperate with your own insurance company to ensure your coverage is not affected. In all but the most minor of accidents, it is best to have a lawyer help you with your statement to avoid mistakes.
Providing a Statement to Your Insurance Company
On the one hand, your insurance company is your insurance company, and they have a responsibility to their insureds. On the other hand, every insurance company prioritizes profit. Your own insurance company may not be any more friendly than the at-fault driver’s insurance company. For example, you may ended filing against your own insurance company for underinsured motorist coverage.
Be honest, but careful with your own insurance company. You need to find a middle ground between being truthful about what happened and making sure you do not give the company a reason to give you less than you deserve. The best way to do this is to make sure you have legal counsel.
Providing a Statement to Another Driver’s Insurance Company
There are a few important rules to follow when dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Most importantly, do not give the insurance company any indication that you may have been partly at fault for the accident or that your injuries are inconsequential. These are common defenses in injury claims.
Unlike most states, Maryland follows a “contributory negligence” law, which means that if you are found even a tiny bit at fault for the accident, you are completely barred from recovering damages. And, even if they feel minor right now, injuries from car accidents, particularly to the neck and back, often get worse over time.
Give direct answers to the questions asked of you only. Do not volunteer information and do not speculate. You should give them the bare minimum and stick to the facts.
Finally, unless you were involved in a very minor accident, it is best not to speak with the other insurance company without representation. A recorded statement especially will limit what you are able to say further down the line and will hurt your chances at a fair settlement if any mistake is made. If there is a possibility you have damages that are at all significant, it is better to get legal representation, particularly when the details of the injuries and accident are not cut and dried.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident and you are thinking about giving a recorded statement to an insurance company, it is imperative to first get the advice of an experienced car accident attorney. They can help you get out of making a recorded statement altogether and communicate with insurance companies in your place.
But what about for small accident claims? We always believe it is beneficial to have an experienced car accident attorney’s advice. However, there are situations when it may make sense to represent yourself. If this is the case, you can still contact a lawyer for a free evaluation and utilize the resources on our website to help you get the upper hand.
If you have been injured in a car accident, call us at (800) 553-8082 or go online for a free claim evaluation. Our experienced lawyers have dealt with insurance companies time and time again and have won millions of dollars for our clients.