Help I’ve Been in a Pennsylvania Car Accident and Now an Insurance Company Wants Me to Give a Recorded Statement
After a Pennsylvania car accident, it’s common for your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company to ask for a recorded statement. You’ll want to know when you have to give a recorded statement; when you don’t have to consent to a recorded statement and absolutely should not give one; and how to avoid the mistakes people make when giving a recorded statement that can ruin an Erie car accident case.
After an Erie car accident, it’s common for insurance companies to want to take recorded statements from the people involved. Depending on who’s asking, you may not have to give a recorded statement. If you decide to consent to a recorded statement, there are simple rules you can follow to avoid making mistakes that could ruin your Pennsylvania car accident case.
1. You May Not Have to Give a Recorded Statement
You absolutely do NOT have to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company after a Pennsylvania car accident. In fact, we strongly recommend against giving a recorded statement to the other guy’s insurance company in any case in which you are claiming personal injury from an Erie car crash.
However, you almost certainly have a contractual obligation to give a recorded statement to your own Pennsylvania auto insurance company, if they ask you for one. If your car insurance company asks you for a recorded statement and you refuse, you may risk losing the benefit of your car insurance coverage.
2. Make Sure You’ve Heard and Understood the Question
If you agree to give a recorded statement after your Erie car accident, the most important thing you must do is make sure you’ve both heard and understood the question before you even try to provide an answer. Once the investigator has finished the question, you should pause. Think about the question. Are you sure you heard it all clearly? Are you sure you understood the whole question and all of the words used? If you are unsure, ask that the question be repeated or rephrased.
3. Control Your Answers
When you’re being asked questions about your Erie car accident case, you should answer the questions completely, clearly, and audibly. Avoid nodding, head-shakes, or “uh-huhs or uh-uhs.” These responses may end up in the transcript of your statement, but they can be misinterpreted and so are best avoided.
Don’t volunteer information beyond the scope of the questions. Don’t think out loud. If you’re asked what time you started the trip that ended in your Erie car crash, your answer should be something like, “About 9:30 a.m.” Your answer should not sound like this: “Well, let’s see. I left the house early that day because my daughter had a dentist appointment. We were running late. We’re always late. Ha ha. We skipped breakfast so I drove through McDonald’s. That was about 9:15. So, then I dropped her off at school. I remember thinking how late I was for work….etc.”
While you should not volunteer information, you should nevertheless ensure that your answer is a complete response to the question that you are asked. Questions about injuries are frequently questions that provoke responses which may not be complete or accurate. Some people respond to such questions by trying to repeat or summarize what they were told in the emergency room. Other people just tell the investigator about the worst symptoms and omit other symptoms. Neither approach is accurate or complete. If asked, tell the investigator what hurts and don’t leave out anything that hurts.
4. Keep It Factual and Accurate
Answers about your Pennsylvania car accident should be both factual and accurate. It will not help you to accuse the other driver and it can hurt you to accept blame. Don’t guess or speculate. If you don’t know the answer, then your response should be, “I don’t know.”
Questions about time, distance, and speed can be particularly difficult to answer. Many witnesses inaccurately use specific terms to convey general ideas. For example, you may be asked how long it was between the time you first saw the other driver and the moment of the collision. You probably weren’t measuring the time with a stopwatch. Likely, you have only a general notion of time. Still, some witnesses in that situation will answer, “A second or two.” There’s nothing wrong with an answer like that if it’s true and accurate. However, if the true and accurate answer is, “I don’t know — it wasn’t very long,” then that is the answer you should give.
Remember: if you’re not sure about something connected to your Erie car crash, then the most accurate and complete response you can give is one that informs the investigator that you’re not certain.
5. Consider Each Question and Answer as Standing Alone
Make each question and answer complete by itself so that, if read out of context, your answer accurately conveys your position. Straighten out confusion and multiple meanings.
6. Keep Your Demeanor Polite
Be polite but not chummy. The investigator is not your friend. Nor do you need to treat the investigator as an enemy. Your job is to provide factual information in response to the inquiries that are posed to you, no more and no less. Any other response, whether it be an effort to reach out to the investigator as a friend or an angry or defensive response, will only get in the way of doing your job properly.
7. Tell the Truth
The first rule of all personal injury communications (and particularly those communications with insurance companies) is to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable…especially when it’s uncomfortable.
If you were recently hurt in an Erie car accident, you almost certainly have many questions. For example, you may be wondering how your medical bills will be paid, whether you need an Erie accident lawyer for your case, or where you can find tips for handling your own injury case. You can find answers to many of these questions on this website or you can order a free comprehensive book we’ve written just for people who’ve been injured in Pennsylvania car accidents: “The Ultimate Guide to Car Accident Cases in Pennsylvania: A Roadmap to Justice.”
Of course, if you’d just prefer to cut through the paperwork, call today to talk for free with one of our Erie car crash lawyers at 814-833-7100.