Q: The insurance company has refused to pay my claim unless I give a recorded statement. Should I give a recorded statement before talking to a lawyer?


A: NO!


Every day we hear from prospective clients who have tried to handle a case on their own without hiring a lawyer and who are now at their wit's end. They have medical bills accumulating. Their car is wrecked. They are missing work. They have communicated with the insurance adjuster for the at-fault party and that adjuster has requested that they give a recorded statement to "complete" evaluation of their claim.


If you are in this position, please consider the following: While you are certainly free to attempt to negotiate your own case without a lawyer, keep in mind that anything damaging you say in a recorded statement might be used by an insurance adjuster as a basis to deny your claim.


How do you avoid saying something stupid which destroys your own case?


The only surefire way to avoid shooting yourself in the foot is to speak to a knowledgeable lawyer about the facts of your case BEFORE you give the recorded statement. Remember, If you don't consult a lawyer and you do say something which destroys your own case, you often will not be able to undue this damage by then hiring a lawyer. 


Don't make this common mistake by assuming you can go it alone. Prospective client's call us all the time after having given (poorly thought-out) recorded statements without understanding what's at risk. When their claims are subsequently denied by the insurance carrier on the basis of the statement, they finally understand why they needed a lawyer to begin with.


You should consult with a lawyer before giving a recorded statement. You have nothing to lose by doing this. Most personal injury lawyers provide free consultations and you can always elect not to hire them, after you get the information you need.


Get someone in your corner who can fight for you. Remember that the insurance company is in the business of insurance claims. It’s always their goal to pay as little as possible on claims in order to maximize their own profits. A good lawyer will help you understand what the issues are, and give you advice on how to field the recorded statement landmine, in order to maximize the value of your case.

Robert W. Katz
Bob Katz is Chair of the Personal Injury Group at Gordon Feinblatt, LLC
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