What You Need to Know if You are Involved in an Automobile Accident
The first thing to remember is that you are under no obligation to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company
It’s a familiar scene: Soon after an accident, the phone rings, and an insurance adjuster on the other end asks if they can record your version of events. It might seem like a routine or helpful gesture, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Understanding Their Strategy: Insurance adjusters are trained to reduce the company’s liability. A recorded statement can be scrutinized for inconsistencies, which might be used against you later. They might phrase questions in ways that could lead you to minimize your injuries or even admit fault inadvertently.
Knowing Your Rights: Contrary to what many think, you’re not legally required to provide a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. You are, however, required to cooperate with your insurer based on the “duty to cooperate” clause in most insurance policies. In either case, you need to be cautious when dealing with an insurance adjuster.
Seek Counsel First: If you do decide to provide a statement, it’s wise to consult with a personal injury attorney beforehand. They can guide you on what to say, ensuring you don’t unintentionally harm your claim. They can even be present during the call to protect your interests.
Remember the Written Word: Instead of giving a verbal statement, consider providing a written one. This allows you to take your time, think through events, and articulate them without being put on the spot. You can review your account, make sure all details are accurate, and consult with legal counsel before sending it off.
Ways the Insurance Company Can Use the Recorded Statement Against You
Insurance companies, while claiming to be on your side, are businesses at their core. Their main aim is to keep expenditures, including payouts, to a minimum. Here’s a deep dive into how they might leverage your recorded statement against you.
- Twisting Your Words: Insurers can dissect every phrase, every pause, and every assertion you make. A seemingly innocent statement like “I didn’t see the car coming” can be spun into “I wasn’t paying attention to the road.”
- Spotting Inconsistencies: Human memory is fallible. If there’s any variance between your initial recorded statement and later testimonies—perhaps during an official deposition or in court—they’ll highlight these discrepancies to question your credibility.
- Minimizing Injuries: If you say something like “I felt fine immediately after the crash,” they might argue later that your injuries weren’t as severe as you claim, even if complications arise.
- Trapping Admissions: Adjusters can pose questions framed to make you admit fault or share the blame, like “Could you have done something to avoid the accident?”
- Comparative Negligence: In some states, your compensation might reduce proportionally if you’re found even partially at fault. Insurers will eagerly use your words to argue shared blame.
- Establishing Pre-Existing Conditions: Any mention of past injuries or medical conditions, even if unrelated, can be used to suggest that your current injuries aren’t entirely due to the accident.
- Questioning the Timing: If there’s a lag between the time of your accident and your statement, insurers might question why you waited. They could insinuate that you’re fabricating or exaggerating details.
- Emotional Manipulation: If you express empathy or sorrow for the other party involved, even out of sheer human kindness, this could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt.
What to Do if the Insurance Company Calls You:
- Stay Calm and Collected: Always remain composed. Remember, you’re not obligated to speak immediately. It’s okay to schedule a call at a more convenient time.
- Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement: Politely decline the request to record the conversation. Inform them you’d prefer to provide information in writing or after consulting with your attorney.
- Take Detailed Notes: Jot down the date, time, name of the person calling, and the details of the conversation. This can be valuable documentation later on.
- Limit Information Sharing: Provide only basic facts about the accident. Avoid discussing your injuries, opinions on fault, or any emotional distress you’re experiencing.
- Consult an Attorney: Before divulging details or accepting any settlement offers, seek advice from experience injury lawyers like those at Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers. We have the expertise to guide you, ensuring your rights are safeguarded.
When faced with such calls, always prioritize your interests. It’s not about being adversarial; it’s about being smart, being prepared, and ensuring you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
The Role of Police Reports:
Police reports play a pivotal role in the aftermath of , auto collisions, serving as crucial evidence when settling claims. Here’s a comprehensive look at why these reports matter:
- Objective Documentation: The officers arriving at the scene take down details without any personal stake. This means their records can offer a neutral perspective on the accident.
- Key Details Cataloged: The report will typically encompass specific details like the time, date, and location of the crash, weather and road conditions, details of all parties involved, and witness statements. This compilation of details can be pivotal in establishing the events leading up to the accident.
- Determination of Fault: While not always conclusive, police reports may contain the officer’s opinion about who was at fault based on their initial findings. This can significantly influence insurance claims.
- Legal Proceedings: Should your case head to court, the police report becomes a cornerstone document. It’s often one of the first items that judges or juries will examine to grasp the accident’s context.
- Injury Documentation: Police reports might also note any visible injuries or damages. This can be beneficial when insurance companies contest the severity of your injuries.
- Basis for Settlements: Insurance adjusters often turn to police reports during their initial evaluations, using them as a starting point for settlement offers.
Understanding the weightage a police report carries underscores the importance of always reporting crashes to the authorities.
Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.