Do I need an attorney before giving a recorded statement after a car accident?

If you are involved in an accident caused by other people's carelessness, you're likely going to need the help of Philadelphia injury attorneys in getting compensation for damages. But your actions before or during the damage claims process may jeopardize your chances of getting compensated. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of your actions and avoid doing things that could reduce your chances of recovering damages. 

Is a Recorded Statement Required After an Auto Accident?

An aggrieved party could make a common mistake in a damage claim is giving an unguided statement to the defendant's insurance company. Unfortunately, when you're involved in a lawsuit for damages, it's almost inevitable that you'll have to deal with insurance companies unless you hire a lawyer to handle them for you. 

You might have to deal with your own insurance company and the defendant in a damage claim case. During this encounter, you might be asked to provide a statement to help settle the damage claims.

The budding question now becomes, is it alright to give such a statement? 

You are not legally obligated to give the insurance company a recorded statement, so your refusal may not have any legal implications.

Why Should I Decline to Give a Statement?

When an accident involving injuries occurs, the defendant's insurance company will almost certainly need a recorded statement from the plaintiff. If this ever happens to you, the wisest decision to make at that point is to decline. No matter how innocent the questions you're being asked might appear, it's best to avoid them. 

Remember, alongside the defendant, the insurance company will be the one bearing the cost for damages, so they will try all means to reduce the monetary value or avoid compensation. The defendant's insurance company is likely staffed by professionals who know the right questions to ask to get you to acknowledge some fault on your part unknowingly.

Problems With Recorded Statements

This is usually where the problem starts; unknowingly admitting fault here and there might eventually all add up. All the defendant's insurance company needs would be a tiny percentage of responsibility on your part to weaken your claim significantly. The more fault you unknowingly admit, the weaker your claim gets. Also, by admitting guilt in any way, you are potentially reducing the cash value of your claim. 

Let's say you had sustained a severe head injury while using a motorcycle and your damage claims in medical bills were worth $10,000. If you subtly give any clues to the insurance company that you weren't wearing the approved helmet stipulated by law. The defendant's lawyer could establish in court that though you purportedly used a helmet, it didn't meet the approved safety standards and thus was legally seen as negligence on your part. 

In other words, since there's some negligence on your part, you might not get $10,000 worth of compensation but a significantly smaller amount. Also, in addition to not using a recommended helmet, if the defendant's lawyer can pin some minor negligent actions on you, you could lose the right to compensation. 

Let's say you unsuspectingly accepted to using muscle relaxers or any prescription drugs which could induce sleep or make you feel fatigued. You might initially think it's okay since they aren't harsh drugs; neither were you using them abusively, but using substances that tend to impair your decision-making speed or abilities while driving could count as a fault on it. 

Remember to be able to recover damages. You must be at most 50% at fault or less. Don't make the mistake of assuming that the defendant was undoubtedly at fault. The law has its powers, but it also has a lot of loopholes. If other minor negligence is pinned on you, and it sums up to more than 50% negligence on your part, you might be in line to lose all compensations. 

However, you might be lucky enough to avoid saying things that the defendant's lawyer can use against you. But it is still a big problem if the insurance company has your statement on record. These folks are trained professionals, so yes, they are brilliant. In court, they'll probably ask you to give an account of what happened in front of the jury. 

To you, it might be alright to have some slight variations from the statement the defendant's insurance company has on record. Maybe it is hard for you to remember and give the same statement in court. It may also be that you made slight variations to increase your chances of victory. But either way, if they find discrepancies in your statements, they'll try using this to establish that your account is untrustworthy, limit your claims, or deny you compensation entirely.

Should I Hire A Car Accident Lawyer To Help Me Obtain Compensation?

Should I hire a car accident lawyer – a question that anyone who has been involved in a car accident has asked themselves? The truth of the matter is consulting with a car accident lawyer is always a smart move. Our law firm always offers a 100% free car accident case consultation, there are no strings attached, and you get to talk to a lawyer about your situation.

When Don't I Need A Car Accident Lawyer?

Some examples of the types of car accident cases that can be handled on your own:

  • Minor impact car accident, only property damage, with no injuries,
  • Single car accident, with no roadway defect, i.e., you hit a guardrail,
  • Accident where you are not injured, do not need to go to the hospital and the police report clearly states who is at fault for the accident.

It is not a long list, but again, even in the above type of accidents, it is wise to consult with a car accident lawyer – injuries often manifest, sometimes, days or even weeks after the car accident.

Why Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?

The short answer is: to protect your legal rights.

The insurance company of the person that hit you has no obligation to you and frankly will try to use every advantage they can to get rid of any claim you may have at the lowest cost possible to them. After a car accident, you will likely get a call from the other driver's insurance company asking for you to give a statement – STOP, you do not owe them a comment. This can and will be used against you later. This is one of the tactics or tricks insurance companies use when a car accident claim is reported – there are countless others. Understanding these tactics and not letting you fall into these traps is why you need a car accident lawyer to maximize the dollar amount you can recover for your injury.

When Should I Hire A Car Accident Lawyer

Some examples of situations where you should hire a car accident lawyer:

  • You are injured in a car accident that was not your fault,
  • The other person's insurance company is saying the car accident was your fault when it was not,
  • The insurance company is offering a small amount of money for you to settle your claim. This is a telltale sign that your claim is worth much more than they are offering you,
  • The person that hit your car has no insurance, or you were involved in a hit-and-run.

These are a small set of the most common types of scenarios in which you should hire a car accident lawyer, but once again, there are countless situations where you need a lawyer to protect your interests.

A recent CNN study showed that people represented by a lawyer in personal injury claims averaged 40% higher returns on their claims than non-represented parties. That is a vast number, which translates into hundreds of millions of dollars out of the pockets of those injured in a car accident and back into the insurance company's bottom line. In addition, insurance companies use high-tech computer programs which they have engineered to assess every aspect of a car accident injury claim and allow them to pay out the least amount of money; this is much easier when dealing with a non-lawyer. No wonder insurance companies would rather deal with the person involved in the car accident versus an attorney – you can make your conclusions.

Arguably the most crucial reason that you should hire a car accident lawyer is that we hold the card of bringing a lawsuit for your injuries, a fact that is not lost on the insurance companies. We call the case, or threat of a lawsuit, the "hammer." We will often file a lawsuit, the proverbial "hammer," which puts pressure and a clock on the non-cooperative insurance company.

Filing a lawsuit by an experienced car accident lawyer will often result in an increased settlement offer or a substantial verdict from a jury. However, while you can bring suit against the insurance company on your own if you choose, filing a lawsuit without a lawyer often results in a failed claim.

When deciding the all-important question, Should I hire a car accident lawyer, keep in mind the above factors when making your decision. Then, the best thing to do is take us up on our offer for a free car accident consultation with our lawyers. We will explain your options, without any obligations – then you can make an educated decision.

Hire An Attorney

The bottom line is: never handle legal cases without the guidance of a lawyer, not even answering questions. When securing compensation for damages, all your communications with the defendant's lawyer or insurance company should be through your lawyer. Though it seems logical to try talking up your claims with your defendant's insurance company, nothing could be less productive than that. In the scenario that what you only benefit you, they are likely never to bring it up in court. So why take the stress?


KaplanMarx is a Philadelphia based law firm focusing on personal injury and accident cases. We pride ourselves in our community roots and help injury victims and their families every day to recover.



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