If you've been in an accident or opened up an insurance claim, you may be quickly contacted by an insurance investigator and asked to provide a statement. The insurance representative may initiate the conversation by asking how you are recovering from your accident. In reality, the question is motivated more by the company's bottom line than compassion. They will then ask you to provide a quick statement on what happened and should inform you the statement will be recorded.
Claims investigators are trained in making the statement seem low-stakes and just a matter of routine. But don't let their caring and casual demeanor fool you. In all actuality, they don't waste time when investigating claims for fear you will have spoken with an attorney, which usually makes their job much harder. If you've been asked to provide a statement about your accident, politely decline. You will most likely be required to provide one if you want to settle your claim out of court. But first, read through these tips and pointers and give yourself some time to speak with a personal injury claim attorney who can advise you of how to protect your best interests.
The statement you provide is not just for record-keeping purposes. Rather, the statement will remain a part of the record of the case and can be later relied on should your case go to court, which could be a year down the road, and most claimants don't think that far ahead.
The investigator will ask specific questions meant to get at the “truth” of what happened. Often, the truth they are looking for is that they are not on the hook to pay your claim. They may ask you trick questions or ask you the same question multiple times in different ways to test for any inconsistency. The investigator will also compare your statement to the accident or police report and the statement from the other party. Any discrepancies can lessen your credibility. You may also be asked about your injuries and how you are doing. The problem is many injuries from accidents have delayed onset. In fact, you might not feel the full weight of your injuries for a few days after the accident. If you report you are feeling OK before you know the extent of your injuries, that single admittance can be used as evidence you aren't severely hurt.
If not carefully crafted, a claimant can say goodbye to any hope of a claim payout because insurance companies use these statements as a way to mine for information they can leverage to deny your claim.
The insurance company could use your statement against you even if you weren't at fault. Don't assume because you aren't liable that the insurance company will come to the same conclusion. All too often claimants say the wrong thing and are shocked to get a letter stating the company is denying the claim. In part, it doesn't matter who was at fault. What matters more is what the evidence points to. And because the insurance investigator was not on the scene of the accident, they have to piece together a picture of what happened. Sometimes that picture is clearer and more accurate than other times.
Now that you know how an insurance investigator can use your statement against you, we hope you can more confidently handle your claim while protecting your rights. It's wise to have an attorney present with you when providing your statement. A California personal injury attorney can coach you on how to respond to curve-ball questions the investigator may ask to throw you off. Don't be fooled by their professional courtesy; it's their job to elicit information from you that will give them a legally valid reason to devalue or deny your claim. We advise you to never provide a statement to an insurance investigator before speaking with a personal injury attorney. But, if you do, immediately seek the advice of an attorney. An attorney can request a copy of the statement, advise you on how it might affect your claim, and help you navigate the claims process with that consideration in mind.
Are you involved in an insurance claim? Fresno area personal injury attorney Christopher Martens can help you protect your interests and rights while settling your claim. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide knowledgeable personal injury claim guidance. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.
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