Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler July 17, 2015

Americans making an injury claim should be cautious in making recorded statements to insurers after an accident. Insurance companies are not eager to part with their money and may try to use recorded statements against you in settling your claim.

While claimants never should lie to an insurance adjuster, they should be careful how much information or opinions they share and should be wary of questions adjusters may ask which could cost them later.

You Do Not Have to Make a Recorded Statement

But first, you should know this: You do not have to make a recorded statement to an insurance company or adjuster, whether it’s your own insurer or the insurance company of the at-fault driver.

If you are making an injury claim for an accident which wasn’t your fault, you’ll be dealing with the insurer of the at-fault driver and not your own insurance company. An exception would be if the other driver lacked insurance or fled the scene, in which case you could file a claim with your own insurer, provided you bought uninsured motorists coverage. But normally it will be the other driver’s insurer who contacts you.

That company’s adjuster probably will call within several days after you make your claim. The adjuster may ask you to make a statement while insisting that you’re not under oath so it isn’t important legally. He or she also may insist that a statement is vital to settle your claim and must be done promptly.

But none of that is true. Legally, you do not have to make a recorded statement — and strategically, you should not.

Instead, you’re advised to consult first with an car accident attorney for legal advice and guidance. In fact, you may want your lawyer to be present when you make statements to an insurance adjuster.

That’s because, in personal injury litigation, plaintiffs’ statements do not have to be under oath to be used against them. As the Miranda warning goes, anything you say can and will be used against you.

If an adjuster calls and asks for a statement, politely decline or simply put it off, then consult your injury lawyer. No state in the United States has a law requiring an injured person to give a recorded statement to the insurer of the at-fault driver.

However, if you’re dealing with your own insurer, you generally have a duty to cooperate. Even so, by federal law, no insurer has a right to see any and all of your medical records.

An adjuster may ask you to sign a general medical authorization statement providing him or her with authority to see medical records from any healthcare provider you’ve seen. Eventually medical records can be provided when it’s time to settle your case, but soon after your crash an insurer has no right to see them.

When you do make a statement about your injuries, be sure to list every ailment, treatment and medication involved.

Make a Written Statement

One way to avoid making a recorded statement to your insurer or that of the defendant is to declare you will make a written statement instead. That statement can be carefully prepared and then reviewed by your lawyer to ensure it doesn’t inadvertently hurt your case.

On the other hand, if your case is clearly going to trial, you need not make any statement in advance of the deposition you will inevitably make as part of the trial process. The deposition, and perhaps subsequent testimony, will serve as your statement.

How Your Statement Can Be Used Against You

You may wonder how your statement can be used against you. Well, what if the adjuster says, “Thank goodness your neck injury wasn’t as painful as it could have been,” and you agree? That statement then could be used to diminish your financial claim for your neck injury.

Or the adjuster could say “It sounds as if you had a lot on your mind that day,” and if you agree, that statement could be used to assert that you were a distracted driver and contributed to the crash.

Such leading questions and statements are designed to trip you up and provide fodder for defense attorneys to dispute your claim.

It’s also wise not to make friendly conversation with an adjuster, but rather to stick to the facts of the case. Don’t offer information about your family, and don’t give the names of your doctors.

Stick to the Facts

With these pitfalls in mind, when you do provide information for the insurer, it should be clear that you should stick to the facts and not elaborate, complain or offer opinions.

That includes not offering any personal information such as “This crash came at a bad time — I’m getting divorced” or anything of that nature. Again, these admissions can be used to suggest you were distracted and contributed to a crash.

Keep in mind that after you say something in a statement to an adjuster, you can’t take it back. Your statement then can be used in settling your claim, even if that occurs weeks or months later. Anything you say can be used to diminish or even deny your claim.

Preparing Your Statement

Your injury lawyer can help you in preparing your statement. That can include writing down all of the pertinent facts about the collision which injured you, in chronological order, including medical care you may have had since the crash.

If the adjuster interrupts you to send you off-track, try to disregard it and simply continue with your statement. Also, make a point to record the statement yourself, since your own attorney should have a record of what you say to the insurance company as preparation for a possible lawsuit down the line. Simply tell the adjuster that you, too, will be recording the statement.

In a trial, you may need to give a deposition or testify, and before doing that, you should review your recorded statement to ensure that you give consistent statements or testimony. Consistency is vital in order not to jeopardize your reliability.

One thing your attorney may advise you to do is to deny liability. Don’t make the defense attorney’s job easier by shouldering all or part of the blame for a crash.

Beware Low-Ball Settlements

Also in this process, be wary of an adjuster who offers you a small “low-ball” settlement to resolve your case quickly. It’s better to wait and claim the entire amount you are due, rather than taking a small amount just to get on with it.

In addition, be wary of an adjuster who tells you not to talk to a lawyer. Declining to get legal advice would only help the insurer to settle your case for the least amount of money. You have a right to seek legal counsel and should exercise that right in dealing with a large insurance company which only wants to keep the money paid for its policies.

With that in mind, please contact our law firm for a free legal review of your case. We stand ready to help.

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Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.read more
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Bernard Orozco
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Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
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