Shortly after an automobile accident, it is quite common for a representative of the other driver’s auto insurance company to immediately investigate the incident and try to get your account of the accident (and any stated harm). Often, claim representatives will contact you over the phone. It is tempting to open up to the representative and even downplay your injuries. That is exactly what the insurance company wants. Recorded statements often work more to the favor of the insurer for several reasons.
Recorded statements are particularly risky for an injured party because the claims adjuster often leads and directs the conversation. In many cases, the insurance adjuster is not particularly concerned with how you view the accident or what would be beneficial to you. The insurance claims adjuster is normally working to protect the insurance company. This behavior has two implications.
First, the claims adjuster often only asks questions that they believe will result in answers beneficial to the insurer. As a result, you could wind up providing information helpful to a potential legal adversary. Second, the provision of your information gives the insurer a head start on further investigative activities.
Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, hearsay testimony is not admissible in a court of law. Hearsay testimony is often confusingly defined as “an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted,” but in most cases, it is sufficient to define hearsay as statements made by people not currently testifying. Hearsay is considered to be unreliable testimony because the witnesses alleged to have spoken have not appeared to back up their accounts of what happened. However, there is a common hearsay exception that states that any statement made by a party opponent is automatically not hearsay. In most cases, you will be suing the insurance company that took your statement, which means that you are a party opponent for the purposes of allowing your recorded statement into evidence. The statement can also be used to impeach your testimony if there are any inconsistencies.
This issue arises most often if you said during the call that you were “feeling okay” and you were planning to continue working, but then you later discover your injuries were more severe. The insurance company will often try to use your earlier statements against you.
If a recorded statement is provided, you should have your San Francisco personal injury lawyer present and on the phone with you. The legal team at The Law Office of Scott Righthand, P.C. is ready to help. We understand the tricks and tactics of the big auto insurance companies. Contact our office to schedule a confidential case review with a dedicated personal injury attorney so we can get to work on your case.
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