So you have been hurt in a car or truck accident, and the insurance adjuster is calling to take a recorded statement so they can decide whether to pay you some money?
Should I Speak to an Insurance Adjuster Without My Lawyer?
No! Never give a recorded stated to an auto insurance adjuster and never speak with them directly or without your injury attorney present. Insurance adjusters want to take your statement in order to lock in your story. It seems like that is fair, doesn’t it? You want to tell them so they can understand that the other person or company is at fault in causing your injury, don’t you? Well, regardless of how nice this adjuster seems, or how convincing they may sound that you must give the statement, you need to know that you are dealing with a person intent on securing only half of the truth. They are trained to put words in your mouth, and ask you to agree with it. They are trained to ask follow up questions in a manner that will insinuate that you could have done something to avoid the incident. They are trained to minimize the effect of your injuries, and trained to make you feel like you are a “wussy” if you are still hurting with these “sore muscles” and “soft tissue” injuries.
What they will do is tell you that they will never pay the claim until you give the recorded statement. What they don’t tell you is that they are recording you even when they don’t have your permission. This is legal, and they always do it. They don’t have to take your statement to pay the claim. To test them out, tell them that if they want your statement, you will agree to meet them in person and give a statement. But here are the conditions. You get to ask their insured questions first. Tell them you may even have a lawyer show up to ask the questions. Seems fair doesn’t it because he is professionally trained to ask questions, just like the insurance adjuster. And you will record their insured’s statement. You can bet your bottom dollar that they will NEVER take you up on that offer. In 25 years of practicing law, I have never had one of these adjuster accept my offer. All experienced lawyers have had the same experience. What does that tell you?
But you say, I am pretty smart, and I can deal with this situation. The problem is that you have not been trained in the methods the adjuster uses. Regardless of your answer, the adjuster will come back with follow up questions that help them achieve their goal to minimize the insurance company’s risk, or eliminate your claim. You expect to be as savvy in dealing with an adjuster just the same as someone could not be expected to do your job nearly as good as you can. A good lawyer will not allow you to give a statement (some of the guys you see on TV don’t follow these practices). There is no requirement that you give the statement to the third party insurance adjuster. Hopefully, the lawyer you hire will visit with you in great detail, will completely understand everything about the accident, and will be able to put things in context. He will provide the adjuster all the information they need to know, and most importantly will do it in a fashion, form, and manner that will protect you from the insurance adjuster’s unfair practices. If the case is tried to a jury, your claim will not be destroyed because of the fact that the insurance adjuster has a statement that presents things in a false light, with everything taken completely out of context.
They can learn what they need from the police report if they intend to pay the claim. Otherwise, the adjuster is setting you up so they can deny the claim, then defend it in court.
If YOUR insurance company wants a statement you do have a duty to cooperate. But a good car wreck lawyer will impose conditions related to the giving of the statement which will protect you. I prefer that my clients provide a deposition and this serves as the “statement request.”
Are Insurance Adjusters Allowed to Lie?
Remember, the adjuster is professionally trained to deceive you. They do it with a pleasant voice and a smile. These trained professionals seek to gain admissions they know will defeat your claim. The adjuster is paid by the insurance company whose goal is to make a profit, not to aid you in your claim. Therefore, they will seek to ask questions out of context. They will try to set up answers so that later on it will appear that you were untruthful. i.e, have you ever been injured before? if you fail to tell them about that twisted ankle in the 2nd grade, you will be described as a cheat to a jury later on! They will be try to persuade you to admit that looking back on things, you probably “share some blame too.”
If you need help in dealing with a tricky adjuster, please get in touch with me so I can send you one of my free books to further advise.