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Should I Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Company?

When someone is injured in an auto accident or suffers another type of personal injury, they will most likely be dealing with the responsible party’s insurer if they are going to file a claim for compensation. Oftentimes, the insurance company will contact the injured individual within just a couple days of the accident, before they have time to get organized and seek legal counsel.

The insurance company representative will usually be very friendly and courteous, and they will act like they are on your side. They will ask how you are doing and reassure you that everything is going to be okay. After establishing rapport, they might also ask you to give them a recorded statement about the accident.

Should you agree to the insurer’s request for a recorded statement? The short answer to this question is, “no”, or at least not until you have spoken with an experienced personal injury attorney about your case.

Asking for a recorded statement may seem like an innocuous request, and it might be if it was being requested by a neutral party, a law enforcement investigator, for example. But you must keep in mind that no matter how much they try to tell you that they are in your corner, the insurer’s primary goal is to pay out as little as possible for your claim. And as such, their interests run counter to yours.

How a Recorded Statement Can Hurt your Injury Claim

Insurance companies employ a number of different tactics in order to minimize the amount of compensation they pay out for injuries caused by their clients, and one of those is to ask for a recorded statement. Although you are not required to provide this statement if it is being requested by another party’s insurer, they might imply that you need to because it is necessary to expedite the processing of your claim.

The problem with these types of statements is that insurers often use tricky or misleading questions that are designed to get you to say something that can be used against you. Remember that insurance adjusters have a lot of experience dealing with accident injury victims, and they are very good at twisting the answers given in the statements in order to weaken your case and thus strengthen theirs.

From the insurance company’s standpoint, the end goal of the recorded statement is to get you to admit at least some fault for the accident, and to get you to minimize the extent of your injuries. They will try to get you to say things like “I might have been going a little too fast through the intersection at the time of the crash”, or “I guess I was distracted by a call that came in on my phone.”

One of the biggest challenges with giving a recorded statement is the timing of it. For example, if you talk to the insurance company about your injuries a few days after an accident, you might not know the results of tests conducted by the doctor or the results of examinations from follow-up visits.

With some accident cases, the effects of the injuries are not felt until several days later. So, if you tell the insurance company representative that your injuries are minor and then you start to feel some serious neck and lower back pain later in the week, the answers you gave in your initial statement could come back to haunt you.

Contact an Experienced West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer after Being Injured in An Accident

If you have been injured in an accident and the insurance company is asking you for a recorded statement, you should at the very least decline their request until you’ve had a chance to talk to an attorney. They are in a hurry to get you on the record, because they want to settle the case as quickly as they can and for as little as possible.

Once you have retained legal counsel, your attorney will deal directly with the insurer. In addition, they will be present for any requested statement to help ensure that the insurance company representative cannot trap you with any misleading questions.

If your injury occurred in West Virginia, the Masters Law Firm is here to help. We have several decades of experience successfully representing accident injury victims, and we know how to deal with the tactics commonly used by insurance companies. To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team, call our office today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106 or send us an online message.

Can my Car Accident Claim be Reopened after it is Settled?

If you got injured in an auto accident, you may be thinking about whether to accept a quick settlement offer from the responsible party’s insurance company. This is understandable.

After getting hurt in an accident, finances can get pretty tight when you are out of work for a while and have medical bills to pay, and the last thing you want to deal with is a long and drawn out injury claim. So, when an insurance company approaches you with an offer to settle, it can be very tempting to accept that offer.

The problem with accepting an early offer from an insurance company is that it can be and usually is far less than what your claim is actually worth. You might not realize this at the time, but later when all of your physical symptoms have totally manifested themselves and your medical tests are completed, your doctor informs you that your injuries are considerably worse than you originally thought.

When this type of situation arises, many people wonder if it is possible to reopen their car accident claim after it has already been settled. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is generally “no”. There are some limited circumstances when a personal injury case could be reopened (more on these later), but most of the time, you cannot pursue additional compensation after you have accepted a settlement offer.

It is because of situations like these that we always recommend at least talking with an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting any type of settlement offer from an insurance company. By consulting with an attorney, you can have your case thoroughly analyzed by an experienced professional and be advised of your legal rights and options. This way, you can make the most informed decision regarding whether or not you should take the offer.

Under what Circumstances can I Reopen a Car Accident Claim after It Has Been Settled?

If you take a settlement offer from an insurance company, you will normally be required to sign a “release of liability”, which waives your right to come after the defendant for additional damages. There are some instances, however, when it might be possible to pursue additional compensation even after you have agreed to settle a claim:

  • No Signed Agreement: You may be at the point where you have agreed to accept a car accident settlement offer, but you have not signed the paperwork yet. If this is the case, you might still be able to get out of it. That said, be aware that a verbal agreement to settle can sometimes be interpreted as legally valid, so speak with an attorney to find out what situation applies to your case.
  • Settlement Document contained Technical Errors: Maybe the document that you signed has materially significant technical errors. For example, you agree to a settlement of $53,000, but they displace a couple of the numbers and write up the agreement as $35,000. If this happened, you could have them correct the mistake, or it may be possible to back out of the agreement.
  • Defendant Failed to Perform: The defendant agrees to pay you the settlement within 10 days, but 20 days later you have not seen your check. They are now very hard to get a hold of, and when you do reach them, their answers are vague and evasive. In a situation like this, it might be possible to reopen the case because the defendant failed to perform.
  • There Are other Potential At-Fault Parties: Some car accidents involve multiple vehicles and the possibility of several parties that could be at fault. Accidents involving a commercial vehicle could also put multiple parties on the hook, such as the defendant’s employer, a cargo/shipping company, or the party responsible for maintaining the vehicle. Even in a standard two-car accident, a vehicle defect could be a contributing factor. If there are parties other than the one that you settled with that could share some responsibility for your accident, then you may be able to file a claim against them for additional damages.
  • Your Underinsured Motorist Coverage:  You may be able to make a claim against your own insurance company if the amount of insurance available from the defendant is not enough to cover all of your losses. However, if you accept a settlement from a defendant without getting consent from your own insurance carrier, or for less than the defendant’s policy limits, you may waive your right to seek underinsured coverage. This can be tricky, so it is best to contact a lawyer to help you protect your rights to seek Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

Contact Our Experienced West Virginia Car Accident Lawyers

It is not usually possible to open a car accident claim after you have already settled, but there are some limited instances when it can be done. If you are wondering whether this could apply to your case, the best place to start is to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable auto accident attorney.

In West Virginia, contact The Masters Law Firm in Charleston at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106, or message us online to schedule a free consultation.