Posted in Car Accidents on October 15, 2018
Alabama is a fault, or “tort,” car accident state. The driver or other party the most at fault for the car accident will be the one responsible for paying damages – usually through his or her insurance company. For the most part, insurance companies often try to avoid paying claimants. They strive to reduce their liability and maximize profits by delaying claims, denying claims, or offering less than a claim is truly worth. It is up to you as a car accident victim to stand up for your rights during insurance settlement negotiations – starting with denying a request for a recorded statement.
Does Alabama Law Obligate You to Give a Statement?
Insurance claims adjusters are the individuals whose job it is to call and ask follow-up questions after people file car accident claims. The insurance company may employ claims adjusters or hire third-party agents to do the work for them. Claims adjusters see several car accident cases across their desks each month and usually know less about the case than the victims themselves. It is the adjuster’s job to try to convince the claimant to settle for the smallest amount possible – often through deceitful means.
One of the tools an adjuster has at his/her disposal is the recorded statement. If a claimant agrees to give a recorded statement, the adjuster can use anything the claimant says to deny the claim. A claimant admitting that he or she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt during a recorded conversation with an adjuster, for example, could provide proof of the claimant’s contributory negligence – disqualifying the victim from receiving compensation in the state of Alabama. Many claimants don’t realize they have the right to refuse to give an insurance company a recorded statement.
No law obligates insurance policy claimants to give the companies of at-fault drivers permission to record their conversations or statements. It is generally in your best interests, therefore, to politely refuse to give your permission for recording. Be wary any time an adjuster asks to record you, as this points to an attempt to catch you saying something that could hurt your claim. Politely deny permission to record when discussing your case with the other driver’s insurance company. This may or may not end your conversation with the adjuster.
Why You Should Say No to a Recorded Statement
After a car accident, the insurance company’s goal is to prove that its policyholder was not at fault for the collision, thus avoiding having to pay the victim damages. Many insurance companies will do everything they can to minimize their policyholders’ liability, including convincing claimants to issue recorded statements and using what they say against them later. the goal of recording a statement from the claimant is two-fold: to find out your story and to try to catch you in a discrepancy.
If your claim ends up in a personal injury lawsuit, the defense can use your recorded statement to check into the story you give during your testimony. You might not remember what you said in your statement, and you may give a slightly different version of the story. If a single fact doesn’t align with your recorded statement (even an inconsequential one), it could ruin your integrity as a witness and damage your odds of compensation. Even if your story remains the same, you would have given the insurance company an advantage by letting them know the angle you plan on taking during a case.
Always turn down the option to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. You should also turn down the first settlement offer, as it’s likely less than you could get with help from an attorney. Note, however, that you do need to cooperate with your insurance company. It is possible that your policy includes a provision requiring you to give a recorded statement. Protect your rights by discussing your case with a car accident lawyer before making phone calls to insurers.