The insurance company wants a written statement about my car accident
Surely, you’ve heard the Miranda warning, “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” You’re probably thinking, “But, that’s for criminal proceedings.” While that’s true, it also a smart way to view supplying a written statement about your car accident to the other driver’s insurance company. An insurance company will most assuredly use your own words against you at the first available opportunity if it saves them money.
Insurance Adjusters Don’t Work for You
Insurance adjusters are not looking out for your best interests. They work for the insurance carrier, and that’s where their allegiance lies. The adjuster’s role is to minimize the financial impact of a motor vehicle accident for their company. To that end, they are adept at eliciting statements that help the carrier and hurt the claimant.
Requesting a written or recorded statement is common practice after a car accident. Your own insurance company is likely to demand one too, and you must comply with this requirement in those situations. However, no such obligation exists when dealing with the adjuster for the other motorist’s carrier. Keep that in mind when speaking with their representative.
Often, these requests are part of a fishing expedition. The insurance company is looking for ways to defend against a claim or a lawsuit. They ask a series of questions that may trip you up and make it appear that you’re at fault for the accident. This is their job. It’s what they do day in and day out. You, on the other hand, are simply trying to tell your side of the story. One of the problems with that approach is that you don’t have all the facts.
You likely don’t know what issues the other driver could have been facing. That motorist may have been sleep-deprived, taking medication, talking on the phone, texting, or otherwise distracted. There could also be mechanical problems. The adjuster is not going to volunteer this information. Instead, they might ask you a litany of detailed questions to confuse you and elicit comments and statements that lets them off the hook.
Proceed with Caution
The other insurance company’s investigator or adjuster is likely to go after your recorded statement right away, probably during your first phone call. They want to catch you unprepared, and hopefully before you have retained a lawyer.
You need not be rude when declining. Simply explain that you would prefer to discuss your rights with a lawyer before making any statements. Be polite, but firm. Don’t allow them to press you or guilt you into a statement.
Keep in mind that you can always change your mind and offer a statement later. The opposite is not true. Once you’ve provided a recorded or written statement, you can’t take it back. The opposition has locked you into a version of events and any confusion or missteps on your part can and will be used against you.
Be smart. Be cautious. Be prepared. It’s also a good idea to discuss your accident with a skilled and experienced car accident attorney. Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, allowing you to determine whether you have a viable claim before accepting any offers from an insurance company.