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Recorded Statements after a Car Accident – What, Where and When?

On occasion, individuals  visit my office quite sometime after a car accident has occurred to discuss their case. During our conversation they inform me they have already provided a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. When I ask why a recorded statement was provided? The reply goes something like “…..well, the accident wasn’t my fault, so I thought…….. what difference could it make?…..” In helping you understand when and what to say, I’ll begin with a question.

Question:  What should I say in a recorded statement after a car accident?

Answer: Before we address what you should say in a recorded statement after a car accident, let’s consider a] whether you should be making a statement at all and b] whether you are legally obligated to make a recorded statement in the first place.

*If we are discussing your own insurance carrier, you do have a legal obligation to co-operate as the adjuster investigates the accident and processes your claim. That obligation extends to giving a recorded statement and providing other information that is asked during the adjuster interview [again with your own insurance company]. It is best however to have a discussion first [if at all possible] with your attorney to carefully go over the facts.

*But if the other side is asking for a recorded statement, you do not need to give one, and indeed probably should not give one anyway. Why?…..even if you are not at fault? There are many reasons why giving a recorded statement to the other side — which means the insurance company for the other driver, or their attorney — is not wise. In a nutshell, making a recorded statement cannot help your case at all, and can only help theirs.

First, you can be sure the other side will compare every recorded statement you make with any other statements you’ve made about the accident such as in the police report or in the emergency room report or even in the hospital record before you were discharged and any statements you make in the future such as in a deposition. They’ll try to make the most of even the smallest inconsistencies and make you look like you are hiding something or really do not remember or you are a flat-out liar.

Second, an experienced adjuster for the other side knows how to frame questions in ways that will lead you to make a potentially incriminating statement, or at least cause you to paint yourself into a corner. For example, the adjuster might ask how long the stoplight was yellow when you entered the intersection, and whether you saw it turn to red. When you say you did not see the signal turn to red, the adjuster will try to frame that response as an indication you were simply not paying attention.  

For answers to your personal injury claim–call Morton J. Grabel, Esq.

Please note by reading the information above & herein, no attorney-client relationship has been created. Moreover, the information provided herein is not to be relied upon as legal advice for your specific legal needs. Should you have legal questions feel free to contact The Law Offices Morton J. Grabel in Temecula at (951) 695- 7700. Mort, originally from Philadelphia PA, attended an ABA Law School, has an MBA, a Real Estate Broker’s License, a CA Nursing Home Administrator’s License and is a member in good standing of various local Chambers of Commerce.

Written by Morton J. Grabel

For more information or to discuss your case please call the Law Offices of Morton J. Grabel, here in Temecula at (951) 695-7700. Mort is a graduate from an ABA & AALS Law School and has been an active member of the Bar of California for more than 20 years. He is presently the President of the Mt. San Jacinto/Hemet Bar Association.

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