While you are in the hospital or recovering from an automobile accident that was not your fault, chances are good you may be approached by the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a statement concerning your side of the story. It is important to note that when you are being offered a settlement in exchange for a statement, things can go wrong very quickly for you, reducing your settlement in the blink of an eye.
Here is why you should not give the insurance company a statement unless you speak to a personal injury attorney first.
Opening a Door That Was Closed
When you give a statement to the faulty driver’s insurance company, you may be opening a door that was closed. What the insurance company is hoping is that you reveal something that was not part of the police report, anything they can use against you to try and reduce the offer that may be on the table. All you have to do is say something that doesn’t cast you in a good light, and the lawyer for the insurance company will sink their teeth into that one issue to the point they change the entire complexity of the case.
In the statement, you say you were late for work when the accident happened, now the lawyer says had you not been in a rush, perhaps the accident could have been avoided. If you hire an attorney, they will take care of any statement on your behalf that doesn’t compromise your case.
Confirming the Faulty Driver Wasn’t Guilty
If you give the statement to the other insurance company, although they are ready to settle, you might slip and say something that shows perhaps the faulty driver wasn’t fully responsible as originally thought. If you say something like you reached for your coffee, your phone rang, or you were distracted at the time you were involved in the accident, now you give the lawyer for the insurance company ammunition to try and show their client wasn’t solely responsible.
The statement you make is a permanent record you can not go back and fix. Nothing good can come out of the statement, best left to your attorney to handle.
Reducing Your Settlement Offer After the Statement
Perhaps you are not working with a lawyer and the faulty driver’s insurance company wants to give you a settlement check in exchange for your statement. The catch, once they have the statement, they can still modify the offer. What usually happens is the victim is so excited at this supposed windfall that they relax and say things that are hurtful to their case. Making a statement and mentioning how your car was acting up, the roads were slick, or the signals weren’t working, opens the door for the insurance company to reconsider the offer and make it smaller.
Say the wrong thing in a statement and you could give the insurance company reason to take back the offer and give you nothing. Speak with a lawyer before ever giving a statement concerning the accident.
Using Your Words Against You
If you don’t have legal counsel advising you not to make the statement and you provide one, those words could actually cost you more than the settlement check. Perhaps you opened the door to something the other side didn’t consider, and after further investigation, it comes to light that you may have been and equal party to the fault of the accident.
If the insurance company lawyer is tough, they may use those words in court against you to not only dismiss the case, but you have you held responsible financially for some of the costs.
As you can now see, you have everything to lose by giving a statement without legal representation in your corner. Your statement is evidence, and it can come back to bite you today, tomorrow, and for many years in the future, so never say anything unless your attorney gives the approval.
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