After an accident of any type, it can be difficult to know who is on your side. An insurance claims adjuster, for example, may appear to want to help you. The adjuster might be friendly, accommodating, and reasonable. In reality, however, claims adjusters have one main goal: to convince you to settle your claim for as little as possible to save the insurance company money. The claims adjuster can use many different tactics to do so. One is asking you for a recorded statement.
What to Expect During a Conversation With an Insurance Claims Adjuster
The claims adjuster is someone the insurance company hires – either through a third party or in-house – to review accident and injury claims. It is the claims adjuster that will call you soon after your accident (sometimes as soon as the day of) to discuss what happened. The law in Texas does not obligate you to speak to the claims adjuster.
If you are disoriented, confused, upset, in severe pain, fatigued or taking medications after an accident, do not speak to an insurance claims adjuster. This conversation could have important ramifications to the future of your claim. Only accept the phone call and agree to talk to an adjuster when you are alert, calm and well-prepared.
You may wish to consult a personal injury lawyer before your discussion with an insurance claims adjuster. You have the right to do so. You can trust a lawyer to have your best interest in mind when giving you advice about what to say and what not to say. You should not admit fault, for example, and you should be honest with your answers.
How to Answer Requests for a Recorded Statement
During your first phone call with an insurance claims adjuster, whether it is for an auto accident claim or anything else, the request for a recorded statement will most likely arise. The recorded statement is your account of what happened during the accident, which the claims adjuster will record for potential use later. No federal or Texas state law requires you to agree to give a recorded statement. Doing so generally will not benefit you, and instead could hurt your claim to damages.
Insurance claims adjusters use recorded statements as a tool to try to get claimants to slip up and say the wrong thing. Asking for these statements early, in the first few days after an accident, is intentional: the insurance company hopes to obtain the statement before you have had time to speak with investigators or lawyers about the accident. You might not have noticed pain in your back yet, for example, and thus in your recorded statement might say you are uninjured. If you notice pain the next day, go to the doctor and find out you have a herniated disk from the accident, the insurance company will already have you on record saying you have no injuries. This could make it much harder for you to obtain compensation for your injury.
As you learn more about your accident, your idea of who or what caused it might change. If you already gave a recorded statement saying otherwise, however, the insurance company could potentially use it against you to position you as an unreliable witness. This could sway the insurance company or the courts against you during claim negotiations, even if you were not intentionally being dishonest. The insurance company will have the right to use your recorded statement any way it sees fit.
You have the right to politely decline to give a recorded statement to an insurance claims adjuster in Texas. You also have the right to postpone this part of your claim until after you have seen a doctor and/or lawyer and better understand your rights. You could explain that you would rather send in a written statement than the adjuster recording you over the phone. Finally, you have the right to hire a lawyer to take over conversations with an insurance claims adjuster on your behalf. An attorney intervening for you can ensure the full protection of your rights during the claims process.