If you suffer an injury in a slip and fall accident, a claims adjuster will normally contact you to collect information for the insurance company. As part of this process, the adjuster will try to collect a recorded statement from you, but it's seldom in your interests to comply with this request. Learn why recorded statements can damage your case, and find out what you should do if a claims adjuster contacts you in this way.
Why do insurance companies ask for recorded statements?
If you slip and fall on somebody else's property, you'll need to prove certain facts before a court will decide that the property owner was liable for the accident. You will need to prove that:
- The property owner caused the hazard that led to your accident.
- The property owner (or an employee) must have known about the hazard and did nothing about it.
- The property owner should have known about the hazard because a reasonable person would have discovered and repaired the problem.
Unsurprisingly, it's often difficult to prove these things. If you suffer an injury, you don't have to prove to the insurance adjuster that you were careful, but the defendant may still try to show that you were careless. A recorded statement is often a good way to meet this aim. As such, an insurance company will only ask for this statement to defend the property owner.
Do you have to give a recorded statement?
A claims adjuster may tell you that you must give a recorded statement to the insurance company. Some adjusters will try to reassure you that this is simply a routine step in the case. In fact, this isn't the case, and the law does not say that you should give a recorded statement.
What's more, in any conversation with a claims adjuster, he or she must tell you if he or she wants to record the discussion. You should always decline such a request. However, if your own insurance company asks you to give a recorded statement, you can comply with the request because your own insurer will act in your interests.
Why will a recorded statement damage your case?
Claims adjusters generally contact people with injuries soon after an accident. As part of the discussion, the adjuster will collect detailed information about every aspect of the accident, including the extent of your injuries. Very often, it's too early for you to comment reasonably on the impact of your injuries, but the claims adjuster will still ask you questions about this.
If and when the case goes to court later on, the defendant's attorney could introduce the entire recorded statement as evidence. Information in the statement could contradict the claim you present to the court. For example, you may now allege that the injury caused a permanent disability, but your recorded statement may contradict this, which, in turn, could affect the outcome of the case.
A recorded statement will often cause more damage than other types of evidence because the sound of your voice is particularly powerful in a court room. If a judge or jury hears you say something, it's difficult to explain why or how things have changed.
Can you change or correct a recorded statement?
The point of a recorded statement is that the insurance claims adjuster has a permanent record of the information you gave. At any later stage, you cannot generally change or expand upon something you said in the interview, or the defendant's insurer will suggest that you are manipulating the facts.
Of course, a skilled slip and fall lawyer can help you present new evidence in a way that the court may accept, but the recorded statement will always make this process more difficult.
After a slip and fall accident, an insurance company claims adjuster will probably ask for a recorded statement, but this is not normally in your interests. Always ask a slip and fall lawyer, like those at The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky, for advice before you proceed.