Should I Give a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance After a Car Accident?
Most people will find themselves in a serious car accident once, if ever, in their lives. It is difficult to know what to do and what not to do to protect your legal rights. If you were hit by another driver, and their insurance company wants to talk to you (and record your statements), what should you do? Continue reading for tips on dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and if you’ve been hit by a negligent driver in Southern California, call a knowledgeable Riverside car accident lawyer for assistance.
No Law Requires You to Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance
The first thing you need to know about your car accident is that there is no law requiring you to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. They may try to get you to agree to provide a recorded statement about the accident, suggesting that it will affect your legal rights or that it is the moral thing to do. Regardless of what they say, you have the option to deny their request. You can talk to the police and your attorney; you do not have to talk to the other driver’s insurer.
It’s also unlikely that your own insurance company would require you to talk to the other driver’s insurance provider. Your company may want to talk to you, but it hardly benefits them to have you talk to the opposition. Whether you do talk to the other insurance provider, then, is up to you.
Your Statements Can be Used Against You
Any number of things can go wrong when you choose to talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Everything they do following an accident is aimed at limiting their liability, which means they will try to shift the blame to you in whatever way they can. They will try to get you to admit fault by apologizing, they will try to get you to say the road conditions or weather were to blame, they will try to get you to downplay your injuries, they will try to get you to say their client was not being negligent. It can be difficult to suss out these efforts, but rest assured that the other driver’s insurance does not have your best interests at heart.
Anything you say to them, especially if it is recorded, can be used against you. They will point to your statements when offering a low-ball settlement or in court to absolve themselves of liability. In most cases, the less you say to the other insurance company (at least before you have your injury attorney by your side), the better.
When is it a Good Idea to Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance?
Under very limited circumstances, it can be beneficial to talk to the other insurance company. In the rare instance where the other driver was clearly at fault but has either refused to speak with their insurance provider or has lied to their insurance provider, that insurance company may genuinely have no idea who was at fault. They might not know the extent of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle. If you never talk to the other insurance company at all, then it might be some time before you are offered a proper settlement.
Talk to your lawyer before you ever talk to the other insurance company. Ideally, your lawyer will do the talking for you. If you do find yourself talking to the other insurance company, make sure you avoid saying anything that can hurt your claims (such as downplaying your injuries). Answer only the questions that they ask, be honest and brief, and never agree to let them record your statement. Stick to the basic facts of the accident. Do not guess or speculate about what happened; answer only what you know for sure.
If they want more than simply the basic information about the accident (who was involved, where did it occur, names of witnesses and police officers), you can even ask to have your own insurance adjuster present on the call. In this instance, your insurance company and you are both interested in having the other insurer pay, so they will help you limit your statements to the important facts. You could even share more details with your own insurer so that they can handle the call with the other insurance company; let the insurance companies fight it out among themselves.
Get the Compensation You are Due After a California Car Accident
For help getting benefits after a car accident in Southern California, call Ochoa & Calderón to discuss your case with a compassionate and effective California personal injury lawyer. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.