Soon after you have been involved in a car accident, you may be contacted by your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company to ask you to provide a recorded statement about the accident and your injuries. You may ask yourself, “Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?”
Ideally, you should not agree to provide a recorded statement to an insurance company after a car accident in Indiana. This is especially true if you have not consulted with a lawyer first. Instead, you should let your car accident attorney handle any communications with insurers on your behalf and provide them with the documents and information that the insurer needs to investigate and process your claim.
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Am I Required to Give a Recorded Statement to Insurers?
Your obligation to provide a recorded statement after a car accident will depend on the insurance company that asks you for it. If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company for a recorded statement, you have no obligation to comply. You should decline to provide a statement if asked.
However, your auto insurance policy may have a clause that obligates you to cooperate with your insurer in their investigation of your claim. This may include providing a statement if your insurer requests one.
If you refuse to cooperate with your insurer’s investigation, the insurer may deny you coverage under the terms of your policy. Regardless, even if you are contractually required to provide your insurance company with a recorded statement, you should ask your insurance company to wait until you have had a chance to consult first with a car accident attorney.
Why Do Insurers Ask for Recorded Statements?
Insurers want recorded statements from the drivers and passengers involved in a car accident for several reasons. First, having statements from all the individuals involved in the crash may give the insurance company better insight into what happened and who may have caused it. But insurers sometimes ask for recorded statements because they hope a claimant may provide the information they can use to minimize or deny their claim. Specifically, they’re looking for comments like:
- An outright admission of fault for the accident.
- An implied admission of fault, such as, “I didn’t see the other car,” or even just a sympathetic apology for the accident.
- Inconsistencies with prior statements or claims that you have made.
- Anything that minimizes the severity of injuries, such as answering, “I’m fine,” in response to the question, “How are you doing?”
- Personal information, such as admitting pre-existing injuries or health conditions that might have caused you to become fatigued, drowsy, or distracted behind the wheel.
What Should I Say When Asked for a Recorded Statement?
If you are required or choose to give a recorded statement to the insurance company, remember these tips so you do not say anything that might jeopardize your rights:
- Do not admit fault or say anything that might be construed as an admission of fault.
- Provide direct, succinct answers to the adjuster’s questions. Do not offer any information not directly relevant to the question or keep talking just to fill a pause in the conversation.
- Do not guess. If you do not know the answer to a question, you can say so.
- Always ask for clarification if you think you may not have understood the question. Assuming you understood the questions might lead you to volunteer information you should not have.
- Ask the adjuster to refrain from making an audio or video recording of your conversation.
How Might an Insurance Adjuster Try to Catch Me Off Guard?
Adjusters are trained to ask claimants questions in such a way as to induce a claimant into saying something the insurance company can use to deny or minimize their claim. Some of the tactics that adjusters may use to catch you off guard during a recorded statement include:
- Taking long pauses between questions, hoping that an uncomfortable silence will make you keep talking.
Asking you how you are doing at the beginning of the conversation. If you instinctively answer with, “I’m fine,” or, “I’m doing well,” the insurer may argue that you were not seriously injured in the accident.
- Asking you the same question or variations on the same question multiple times throughout the interview. If you give conflicting answers, the insurance company may find your claim not credible.
- Pushing you to agree to facts you believe might not be accurate or accusing you of not providing the whole truth.
- Taking a sympathetic, friendly tone with you to lull you into thinking that the adjuster wants to help you.
What Happens When Insurers Engage in Bad Faith?
Sometimes, insurers in Indiana stoop to bad-faith tactics when requesting a recorded statement from a car accident victim, including failing to pay a claim when there is no legitimate basis for denying liability. This may include misrepresenting policy language to convince a claimant that they must provide a statement or provide more information than they are required to by law.
Claimants can sue insurers that engage in these bad-faith practices. If successful, a lawsuit can provide the claimant with the money they should have gotten under the terms of their policy and additional damages, depending on the circumstances.
What Duties Do I Owe My Own Insurer?
Your insurance policy may impose a contractual duty for you to cooperate with your insurer’s investigation of the accident. This duty may include providing documentation your insurer asks for and a statement about the accident. But there are ways to cooperate without putting your interests at risk. These options include consulting with a car accident attorney or providing a written statement rather than undergoing an interview with an adjuster.
How Can an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
When you work with an experienced Indiana car accident attorney at Truitt Law Offices, we can alleviate the stress that comes from dealing with insurance companies after a crash by taking steps such as:
- Handling all communications with the insurance company on your behalf so that adjusters contact your lawyer instead of you.
- Advising you of your potential obligations to provide a statement to the insurance company and whether you should agree to provide it.
- Preparing you for what to expect if you speak to an insurance adjuster.
- Negotiating with the insurance company for you to provide your statement in an easier format, such as in writing or by filling out a questionnaire, instead of providing an oral statement.
If you have more questions about giving a statement to the insurance company after being involved in a car accident, contact Truitt Law Offices today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you to better understand your legal rights and go over what to expect while pursuing an insurance claim in Indiana.