No. Never give a statement or speak with an insurance company insuring the vehicle that hit you. The claims representative is your adversary and wants to get information to deny your claim.
Should I Report an Accident to My Own Insurance Company?
You should report all accidents to your own insurance company, but if you were injured it’s better to call a personal injury lawyer before speaking with your own insurance company.
Your personal injury lawyer can report the accident to your insurance company and the other insurance company for you.
If you were not injured, you can report the accident to your insurance company.
What Should I Say to the Insurance Company About My Accident?
This is what to say if you get a call from an insurance company:
- If you have a voicemail from any insurance company, don’t return the call. Call an attorney.
- If you accidentally answer the call, say, “I don’t want to say anything until I speak with a lawyer” and hang up.
- If you accidentally answer the call and you have a lawyer, just say “Please call my lawyer at… and give the lawyer’s phone number.
If I Just Talk to the Insurance Company, Is That a Statement?
Yes. Insurance companies record all conversations. When you speak with an insurance company representative, you are giving a statement. It may not be as formal as when they ask for a statement, but your conversation may hurt your case.
What’s the difference between speaking with an insurance representative and giving a statement? When the insurance company asks for a statement, they will ask you many questions about the accident and your injury.
If I Already Gave a Statement, Do I Still Have a Case?
Yes. If you had a car accident in New York or another type of accident in New York and already gave one or more statements, we still want to represent you!
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We Will Not Allow an Insurance Company to Get a Statement From You
We will immediately contact all insurance companies to advise we represent you and that they are not allowed to contact you. Once we do that, no insurance company can contact you without our permission.
We do not allow our clients to give statements to any insurance company that is not your insurance company.
We will prepare you before you give a statement to your own insurance company. We can also request your insurance company to send written questions to us which we can review before submitting.
What Will Happen if I Talk to an Insurance Company?
At best, speaking with an insurance company claims representative will make it more difficult to settle your case early on for full value and can delay your case by 12-24 months. At worst, it may substantially devalue your case or even make it worthless. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s best to call a lawyer immediately after your accident.
Don’t forget, anytime you speak with an insurance representative, you are being recorded, and your statement can be used against you. The insurance representative is not on your side and is trying to get information to protect the insurance company.
Many clients have called us days, weeks, or even months after an accident and after they gave a statement to the insurance company claims representative. Some clients have even had multiple conversations with the claims representative.
- Usually, when clients gave statements, their cases just took longer because the statement made it more difficult to obtain a fair settlement.
- In some cases, the insurance company refused to settle because of a statement and the case had to go to trial.
- In a few cases, clients significantly damaged their personal injury case.
The Insurance Company and Defendant’s Lawyer Will Use Your Statement to Make It Look Like You Are Lying
If you give a statement to an insurance company, they will have one more statement to compare. If your case goes to court, you will give two more statements. You will have to testify at a deposition, and you may have to testify at trial.
By comparing three different statements, years apart, it’s easy to find small discrepancies to make it look like you’re lying or exaggerating when you’re really telling the truth.
Even if your statement doesn’t provide any damaging information, a good attorney will use your statement to find discrepancies and twist your words to make it sound like you’re not telling the truth.
Your Statement May Include Damaging Information
We have clients who made statements about how the accident occurred not realizing that they gave information to the insurance company that they can use to defend the claim.
Sometimes clients think they know what to say to prove someone else was at fault. But that never works out well. They often make statements that do the opposite. Even a personal injury lawyer should never give a statement in his or her own case.
You May Say Things During Your Statement About Your Injury That Prevent an Early Settlement
We also have clients who made statements about their injuries which prevented an early settlement.
One of our clients complained about broken ribs but didn’t mention a concussion when he tried to settle the case himself. He spoke with an insurance representative several times for months but was never able to settle his case.
Finally, he called us. We knew his broken ribs are worth a lot of money, but his concussion was worth a lot more. But the insurance representative said he sounded fine and didn’t believe he had a brain injury, so we made a 3-D color video of the hospital CT scan showing the bleeding in his brain.
Because he spoke with an insurance representative the insurance company offered $150,000 to settle and we had to take the case to trial. The jury gave $1,000,000.
When You Talk with an Insurance Representative They May Think You’re Not Injured
Often the insurance claims representative tells us, “your client said he wasn’t really hurt” or “your client never mentioned he hurt his shoulder.”
Later, when the pain from an injury doesn’t go away or worsens, we get a call. Now, the insurance claims representative may think we’re trying to create injuries that don’t exist and refuse to make a reasonable settlement offer. This can force us to start a lawsuit that can add years to your case.
So this doesn’t happen to you, it’s important to understand why you might not be aware of all your injuries after an accident.
Why You May Not Know About Your Injury After an Accident
Some injuries are not immediately obvious because the pain from one injury distracts from other injuries.
For instance, the pain from a broken rib can mask the pain from a knee injury with a torn ligament. Months later when the rib pain subsides, the pain from the torn ligament becomes a problem. Months later, your doctor says you need surgery for the torn ligament.
Often, people just don’t realize they were seriously hurt until weeks or even months after the accident. Many clients thought they just sprained a knee or shoulder and thought it would go away, but when the pain doesn’t go away, and they get an MRI months later, they find out that it wasn’t a sprain but a ligament tear requiring surgery.
Symptoms from a lifelong brain injury caused by a concussion are often noticed months after an accident and are not recognized as having been caused by the accident. For instance, someone may notice they have become forgetful, irritable, or have difficulty sleeping but not realize why.
Unfortunately, emergency room doctors are only concerned with keeping patients alive and never refer patients to appropriate medical specialists for follow-up unless they see a broken bone in the hospital. But even broken bones frequently aren’t seen in the hospital.
How Are Insurance Companies Trained to Take Statements?
Insurance company claims representatives are trained to get the information from you that they need to deny or minimize your claim. They have detailed manuals with questions and depending upon your answers, more questions to obtain the information they want.
Think of giving a statement as volunteering for an interrogation.
Additionally, claims representatives are often trained on what to say to persuade you not to call a lawyer. They don’t want you to speak to a lawyer because they want to have an advantage over you and they don’t want you to know what your injury is really worth. If you don’t call a lawyer, they may be able to settle with you for $40,000 when your injury is really worth $400,000.
After Allstate’s training manual got out, Allstate sought an order from a federal court in New York to keep it secret. The training manual instructs adjusters on what to say to stop injury claimants from calling a lawyer.
Phil Franckel is well-known in New York and has been a personal injury lawyer since 1989. He is a Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911, LLP®, the Personal Injury Dream Team™, and a former Member Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He has an Avvo Top 10 Rating, Avvo Client’s Choice Award with all 5-star reviews, Avvo Top Contributor Award, Multi-Million Dollar Trial Lawyers Award, and others. See Mr. Franckel’s bio for areas of expertise.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.
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