After a truck accident people tend to have a dozen or more urgent and immediate concerns, so answering some questions from an insurance representative may not make much of a blip on their radar. Despite that, the conversation they have with a claims adjuster after an 18-wheeler wreck could affect their lawsuit against the truck driver (and company) that hurt them. So if the trucking company's insurer asks you to make a recorded statement after a commercial wreck, should you?
Answer: You should not—and do not have to—give a recorded statement to an adjuster from an insurance company that does not cover you.
Your own insurer may require you to make a statement per the terms of your coverage, but our focus today is on what to do if the trucking company's insurer contacts you for one.
Why Does the Adjuster Want a Recorded Statement?
An insurance adjuster's job is to investigate an accident and help determine whether the insurance company should fulfill a policy, which it will generally try not to. An adjuster may call you on behalf of their employer soon after your accident—possibly even within 24 hours.
The industry tends to justify that quick outreach by saying that crash details are best learned while they're fresh on the victim's mind. That may sound reasonable, but it ignores two strong arguments against a "while the iron is hot" philosophy:
- Most people are in absolutely no condition to provide an accurate and thorough statement so soon after a traumatic and potentially life-altering incident, and
- They likely haven't made any arrangements of their own, like calling a lawyer or fully evaluating the damage to themselves or their property, within so short a window.
Whatever someone's feelings about the timetable, the purpose of the call is to find ways to make a claim disappear—or failing that, to pay as little as possible. Adjusters are corporate employees, not concerned Samaritans, and any information they get during that call will be analyzed for material they can use against you.
What is the Risk of Giving a Recorded Statement?
As I mentioned before, most folks really aren't in a proper state of mind to give clear and accurate statements shortly after being in a truck accident. Stress and injuries coupled with an adjuster's recorded interrogation may disorient or intimidate some people and cause them to say things that might haunt them later.
For instance, adjusters are usually trained to ask trick questions whose answers help their case and/or hurt the victim's. They also take common but imprecise language ("I guess," "I don't know," "It's okay") from the conversation and twist it to mean whatever they need it to. Furthermore, they may express sympathy or offer pseudo-apologies—tactics which may "soften" the victim and relax their guard, leading to greater acceptance of the adjuster's suggestions or a more open opinion of any settlement offers. Whatever tricks or techniques are employed, though, the goal is to either nip a potential lawsuit in the bud or to get material they can use to justify not honoring their client's policy. Once caught in that trap, victims rarely if ever get the chance to explain what they meant or set the record straight.
All this may sound like I have a big chip on my shoulder about insurance, but these observations come from long experience helping people whose claims were ignored or disputed. Insurers and their adjusters look out for their interests, not victims', and they're not above some questionable methods to avoid paying on a policy.
What Should I Do if I'm Asked to Give a Statement?
Simply put: Don't. You're not obligated to give a statement, let alone a recorded one to be picked apart and held against you, to someone who doesn't even insure you. In fact, their requests for comment are better directed to an attorney, so it's best to contact one after a truck accident.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Dealing with an insurance company can be intimidating, especially considering how much is often at stake. Finding out the company will bring its resources to bear to avoid helping you can be disheartening, but a good attorney will be in your corner and fight for what you deserve.
The Texas truck accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices have decades of experience dealing with the trucking industry and its insurers. We're familiar with insurance company tactics and how to overcome them, and have helped hundreds of accident victims get back on their feet. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident, call Grossman Law any time for a free and confidential consultation.