There are a lot of pitfalls to consider when it comes to navigating a car crash, especially in a comparative negligence state like California. But what you might not realize is that the insurance company isn’t necessarily on your side, and they may try to pressure you into one of the biggest mistakes you can make after a serious crash.
For The Record
When you call the insurance company to report the crash, they may ask you for additional information “for the record.” Hearing that wording or any indication that the call may be recorded should raise red flags in your mind. This is called a recorded statement, and it is one of the insurance industry’s most insidious traps, especially for drivers who have never been in a crash before.
A recorded statement needs to be precisely worded. The insurance company is looking for poor phrasing that justifies either shifting your assigned fault or offering a lower settlement. It’s not uncommon for a single phrase (“I didn’t see them coming”) to significantly alter your assigned fault and make it much harder to recover damages.
When you agree to a recorded statement, an otherwise simple case can potentially become a drawn-out legal battle as both sides argue over fault and the damages you’re owed. Remember that it is extremely difficult to undo the damage from a recorded statement, and it usually requires an experienced attorney to negotiate for the damages you’re entitled to.
Unfortunately, many drivers feel pressured into giving recorded statements.
Avoiding a Mistake
No matter what the insurance company says, remember this: you have no obligation to provide a recorded statement without your attorney present. However, insurance adjusters can twist the truth. They may claim that you are required to make a statement, that they can’t authorize a rental car until you do, or that they can’t offer you a settlement until you provide a statement. These are tactics to pressure you and should not be taken at face value.
If you are told the call is being recorded, be extremely careful about what you say. Simply tell the insurance company you’ve been in a crash, provide the other driver’s information, and then politely hang up.
It’s almost always preferable to hire an attorney to negotiate on your behalf so you can avoid these mistakes and have a better chance of receiving the full damages you are entitled to under the law.
If you suffered severe injuries in a car crash, our team is here to help. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced California car accident attorney from Ayala, Morgan & Buzzard, please send us an email or call (925) 744-8869.