Should I provide a recorded statement without first consulting an attorney?

Hand Holding a Voice RecorderAfter an auto accident, it's natural to want to do everything in your power to get your claim resolved as soon as possible. However, providing a recorded statement in the hopes of speeding up the process can prove to be a very costly mistake later on in your case.

Recorded Statements Can Only Harm Your Case

A recorded statement isn't given under oath, but the contents of the statement can be used as evidence in a personal injury case. Here are some of the many reasons why giving a recorded statement is ill-advised until after you have hired an attorney.

  • The interviewer may ask misleading questions to get you to provide incriminating information.
  • The interviewer might encourage you to speculate as to the cause of the accident, possibly creating a scenario where they can argue you are at fault for your own injuries.
  • The interviewer might begin a line of questioning that casts doubt on the severity of your injuries or implies that your injuries were caused by something other than the auto accident.
  • You might get nervous and say something you didn't mean or get angry and provoke a confrontation.
  • Your answers might be subject to misinterpretation by the interviewer, especially if English is not your first language or you tend to struggle expressing yourself verbally.
  • Without an attorney present, you won't know if answering a question is in your best interests.

When settling a claim, the insurance company's goal is to pay as little as possible, not what is fair and appropriate. Never forget that the company's real interest is making a profit, not ensuring that you have the money you need to pay all of your accident-related expenses.

Laws Regarding Recorded Statements in Personal Injury Cases

You have a duty to cooperate with the investigation by your own insurance company. Your insurance company will conduct an investigation into the accident if they may have to pay something for the accident. You should provide the basic information and does not require providing a recorded statement. In most cases, your obligation to your insurer is explicitly outlined in the terms of your policy. If you fail to cooperate, the processing of your claim could be denied. This would be especially problematic if it's later found that the at-fault driver has no insurance or insufficient insurance and your expenses must be paid under your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

There is no law that requires you to provide a recorded statement to the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company is allowed to ask for your statement, but you have no obligation to accommodate the request. In fact, it's generally better to obtain a personal injury attorney and direct all communication from the other driver's insurance company to your attorney.

Using Written Statements to Provide Your Side of the Story

If you're being asked to provide a statement or wish to tell your side of the story, a written statement is a better alternative to a recorded statement. A written statement lets you provide key details about the accident without the risk of being thrown off track by an interviewer who asks inappropriate questions.

In your written statement, you should provide:

  • Your identifying information
  • Names and contact information for witnesses
  • The date and time of the accident
  • The name of the road you were driving on
  • What direction you were traveling
  • What, if any, actions the other driver took before the collision
  • What, if any, action you took before the collision
  • Any immediate injury symptoms you noticed

A written statement that clearly and objectively presents the facts surrounding the accident without offering irrelevant information or speculating as to fault will be an asset in resolving your personal injury claim. Your attorney can review the statement to make sure you're not providing unnecessary or potentially damaging information that could harm your case.

Inland Empire Law Group Can Help

Don’t fall for the insurance company tricks in demanding record statement. Consider an attorney before allowing your statement to be taken. The legal team at Inland Empire Law Group can help with personal injury cases. Our attorneys have extensive experience assisting California residents in obtaining the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Please call (888) MY IE LAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville.