“No person shall be […] compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This is your constitutionally protected right to remain silent, and the reason why you should say only eight words to the police if you are ever questioned or arrested for a crime: I would like to speak with my attorney.
But people who are suspected of having committed crimes aren’t the only ones who should exercise caution while speaking about events they may have played some role in. If you have been involved in a car accident in Utah, you would be well advised to speak with your attorney before issuing a statement to your insurance company.
It doesn’t matter if you were entirely responsible for the car accident or blameless for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to your own insurance provider or someone else’s. In no uncertain terms, if you were involved in a car accident, you are most likely to secure your best outcome if you immediately engage an attorney.
Why Recorded Statements Demand Caution
Insurance providers greatly prefer recorded statements over written ones. This is largely because a recorded statement accelerates the claim process, as it is much quicker for someone to speak over the phone than it is for them to write something down.
Recorded statements also give insurance adjusters more opportunities to exploit ambiguous language. As you’re already well aware, speaking off the top of your head is a much less precise way to relate information than writing it down. When you speak over the phone, you may misuse a word, misstate a fact, or use a phrase that could be interpreted multiple different ways.
For example, suppose you are completely blameless for a car accident. You may still say that you “hit the other driver’s car.” In a sense you are correct, but that phrase can be construed to imply that you played a more active role in the accident.
Nearly every insurance policy issued in Utah requires an insured to give a recorded statement to their own insurance company. It is a contractual obligation, and the insurer can deny insurance benefits if the insured refuses to provide the statement. So how do you satisfy that obligation without jeopardizing any claim you may potentially make? Speaking with an attorney first can help prepare you for the questions you will be asked, and the attorney can be present when you make the statement.
What Should You Say to Your Insurance Company?
When speaking to a representative of your insurance company, simply relate the facts, such as “I was driving eastward through the intersection of West Center Street and South Main Street in Logan, Utah when a black Hyundai Elantra with the license plate A34 5BC struck the passenger side of my vehicle.” Afterward, request the insurance adjuster’s contact information and save it. You should also ask for a copy of your statement.
Do not speculate or exaggerate while reporting an accident to your insurance adjuster. Remain calm, and do not provide any more information than is necessary to answer the insurance adjuster’s questions. Do not answer a question you don’t know the answer to, as any misinformation you provide can hurt your claim dramatically. Do not discuss your injuries, as you may not yet be aware of all of your injuries. Do not say you’re sorry or otherwise apologize for anything, as that may be construed as an admission of fault.
Above all else, do not accept a settlement before you have spoken with your attorney. Insurance providers often try to tempt their policyholders with fast, low settlements, but a low settlement may prove woefully inadequate to fully compensate you for your injuries, vehicle damage, lost wages and pain and suffering. Your attorney’s job is to secure the settlement you actually deserve.
What Should You Say to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
The answer to that question is simple: practically nothing. If the other driver’s insurance provider contacts you requesting a statement, politely tell their representative that you are exclusively communicating through your attorney. If you tell them more than your attorney’s contact information, you have told them too much.
Why Should I Engage an Attorney After a Car Accident?
When you want the best possible chance of securing the best possible outcome, you want an attorney. An attorney will ensure that your insurance company receives all your medical records.
They will simplify your life by handling all the communication with your and the other driver’s insurance provider. They will fight to secure the compensation you are fairly owed.
If you have been involved in a car accident in the greater Logan, Utah area, then you deserve an attorney who will stand up for your rights. We welcome you to contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today. Our clients’ best interests are the only interests we have at heart.