Here is the very short answer: No.
The best course is never to divulge any information beyond the bare bones details to anyone except your attorney. Under no circumstances should you provide a statement to a claims adjustor, whether the at-fault party’s or your own, without first speaking with a lawyer. The adjuster might mis-record, misconstrue, and even deliberately twist what you say out of shape. And then the insurance company can use your statement against you if your claim goes to court.
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Why You Should Not Give a Statement
There are several sound reasons why you should not give a recorded statement to an adjuster. Chief among these is that the adjuster may use your statement, especially if you gave it verbally, to weaken your case – to devalue or even deny your claim. Insurance companies, after all, are in business to make money, not to pay it out every time someone files a claim.
An adjuster will claim, most likely, that she wants you to give a statement solely to hear your side of the story to get a comprehensive account of the car accident. But the unfortunate fact is that many claims adjusters will try to trip up claimants, getting them to say things that will weaken or damage their claim.
Depending on the case, a lawyer may allow a client to provide a recorded statement only when the attorney herself is present. The idea here is that the attorney can assist the client in avoiding saying anything to hurt the claim. The attorney will also make sure the adjuster does not ask any leading or inappropriate questions.
In other cases, the lawyer may simply prepare the client to give the recorded statement, setting limits as to what the client should and should not say. And still in other cases, the lawyer may advise not giving a statement at all.
Insurance Adjusters’ Strategies and Tactics
When you finally get home after a car accident, it may not be long until your phone starts ringing. A claims adjuster may call you to try subtlety and/or via the application of uncomfortable pressure to get you to give a statement.
First, they may try subtle tactics. Under the pretense of simply engaging in conversion, an adjuster may try to fish out details about the accident. Your best response in this case is to refuse to supply any but the most basic details, telling the adjuster that you will give a statement to your lawyer at the appropriate time.
Sometimes, an adjuster will call and offhandedly ask if he can record the conversation or even pressure you to give a tape-recorded statement. Under no circumstances should you permit the adjuster to record your conversation. (You are under no legal obligation to do so, and a phone conversation recorded without permission is illegal.)
Impromptu phone conversations are simply not the best way for anyone to give a complete and accurate account of anything. Accident victims may feel rushed and nervous, forget things, and may be clumsy in their descriptions of the accident. And then there is the near impossibility of making corrections to a statement later.
Finally, there are the quick settlement offers. Sometimes even during the first few phone calls, an adjuster will offer a settlement. These quick settlements save the insurance company a lot of time and work and money. But you should never provide a statement in exchange for a settlement.
In most cases, you will lose out in the long run. Your injuries may turn out to be more extensive or more debilitating than you first thought, so you would not know what your claim is worth at that point. As tempting as it may be, do not fall for it.
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Tips for Florida Car Accident Victims
In the event of a car accident resulting in injury in Florida, certain other considerations beyond not giving a statement to adjusters can determine how you should proceed, as well the outcome of any claim and potential lawsuit.
No-Fault Insurance – Florida is a no-fault insurance state. You will first have to seek compensation from your own PIP insurance coverage, regardless of who was at fault.
Time Limits – The statute- of- limitations allows only a four-year window for personal injury lawsuits including for car accidents. In addition, if your claim qualifies under the serious injury threshold and you move forward with a lawsuit, that window begins on the day of the accident.
Serious Injury Threshold – If it can be shown that the accident resulted in serious injury, you will be able to take legal action for your injuries beyond the no-fault limitations. Serious injury generally means permanent injury or significant and/or permanent disfigurement or scarring.
Settlements – If you accept a settlement offer, you relinquish all ability to pursue further legal action against the person(s) who caused the accident and injury.
Finding the right attorney early on to take your official statement and help you navigate Florida’s insurance and legal system is critical. The attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. To discover more in a free consultation, give us a call at 1-800-747-3733.