When you first contact the other party’s insurance, they’re going to have you set up a claim. They will then say, "Do you have a few minutes? We just need to take a brief recorded statement to find out what happened in the collision." Some folks say, "Well, I don’t want to take a recorded statement. Do I have to?" They’ll say, "Yes, you have to. It’s part of our investigation. We do this in every case." At that point, they’ll say, "You don’t have to, but I can’t put you in a rental car until you do." Or, "I can’t start repairing your car until I do, because I have to establish liability." This is true, but also not true.
Many times they are trained as part of the procedure on any new case to ask for a recorded statement. They have to ask for one. They don’t have to receive one. In a simple rear-end collision where liability is not an issue, there is no need to give a recorded statement. In a more complicated case, sometimes there is a need to. However, it’s certainly not in every single case. Many times when they ask for a recorded statement, if they really do need one, they’ve already made up their mind that they’re going to question liability. They just want to get you on tape telling a story so that later on, if you go to court, their lawyers can put up your statement and compare it to your story there and try to cross you up and trick you, or see if there are any inconsistencies or differences. I would recommend not giving a recorded statement unless you absolutely have to. You can send the accident report to them, so they can see it and it’s clear-cut and there’s no reason you should give a recorded statement. In close to two-thirds of my cases, we don’t do any recorded statements at all. When the accident is clear and everyone knows what happened, there’s no reason to give a recorded statement. The only reason the insurance company wants one is to try to trip you up later, or in an attempt to limit your bodily injury.
If you give a recorded statement, they will ask you what your injuries are. They will sometimes do this within two days of the accident. You may not know what your injuries are at that time. Back and neck injuries frequently get worse over two to three days. Therefore, if you gave a statement on Day No. 2, you might hurt more on Day No. 3 than when you gave the statement. Another situation is you might be in so much pain from your neck injury and migraines it was causing; you might fail to mention that your lower back hurt. You might have a broken arm and have just had surgery from it, so you might not be worried about your knee which struck the dashboard and has been causing you pain. If you fail to mention an injury in a recorded statement, no matter how soon after the accident it happened, and you later need any treatment for that injury, it is very difficult to get the insurance company to pay for it or include it in your bodily injury settlement.
It is for that reason that I do not give recorded statements talking about damages until a client is done treating. If you must give a recorded statement, talk about liability only, or talk about the facts surrounding the accident, but not about your injuries. I recommend that you say that you’re hurt and you’re seeking treatment, but you don’t want to go into any details at this time. This keeps you from being trapped and from the insurance company claiming you didn’t tell them about an injury and using it against you later. There is no need to talk about your injuries in a recorded statement with the insurance company.
They will sometimes say procedure makes them do a recorded statement. This is a recording of what you say happened at the collision. Its sole purpose is to document your testimony to try and find inconsistencies in it. They want to see if you change your mind or story about anything. Did you say it happened at 5:00 and the police report says 6:00? Maybe you say that you were going 45 mph and the speed limit is 35 mph in this area. Anything that you get wrong will be treated as if you purposefully lied about it.
Any technique is to get a recorded statement immediately after the wreck. Maybe it is the night of the wreck and your neck has not started hurting. They will ask what hurts. If your back doesn’t hurt that night but tomorrow it starts, they will play back the recording where you say your back wasn’t hurting.
Maybe your neck hurts so bad, that you cannot concentrate on anything else. If after the doctor gets your back under control, you need treatment for you knee, guess what? They will say you failed to mention it and won’t want to pay for any associated injury to it.