A major mistake that I have found in my 24 years as a Toledo, Ohio, auto accident attorney is unrepresented people giving recorded statements to the insurance adjusters. The goal of the insurance adjuster is to lock the injured person into a set of facts that can be used to discredit the victim and their injury. This helps the insurance company pay less money.
After I am hired to protect the legal rights and maximize recovery for the injured person, I order up a copy of the recorded statement. Here are but 4 examples of what I have found over the years:
1.The client tells the adjuster they are not injured in the accident: Unfortunately, the client, a week later, began treating for serious injuries that developed a few days later. The statement is used to discredit the injury, the cause of the injury, and the credibility of the client.
2. I’m not sure if my injury is from the accident or a prior problem: That’s nice to know, however, if you are not sure then the insurance company will be happy to keep their money and let you foot the bill for treatment.
3. I was not wearing my seatbelt or glasses: The injuries are your fault for not using a legally required safety device. The accident is partially your fault for not being able to see.
4. I knew the driver of my car was drunk but I rode with him anyway: Assumption of the risk is a defense under Ohio law. You may be determined to be more than 50% at fault for assuming the risk.
We sometimes will give a recorded statement later in the case. That is done for strategic reasons only after the client is fully prepared for the questions. The lesson is to not voluntarily give the insurance company ammunition to harm your case.