By: Whalen Hersh
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Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Before Talking to an Insurance Company or Give a Recorded Statement?
Yes! If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, we recommend that you talk to a personal injury attorney before talking to any insurance company representative.
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND
After you are injured in a car accident, you may be contacted by the insurance company that represents the negligent person who hit you. They may seem friendly and caring but know that their main goal is to deny your claim or pay you the least amount they can for your claim. They will ask all sorts of questions, looking for information that will help them and their own insured build a case against you.
It is critical that if you are contacted by an insurance company adjuster who represents the negligent driver that hit you, you should politely let that person know that you want to talk to your lawyer before providing any information. Do not provide any statements about the accident or your injuries. Get the adjuster’s name, contact information, and claim number. After you hang up with the insurance company, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help explain your rights and the process.
YOU MUST BE CAREFUL, EVEN IF IT’S YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY
Even if it is your own insurance company, you should be careful when you talk to them. You should of course contact your own insurance company immediately if you are in an accident to provide them notice of the accident, and you should remember that you do have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company in the investigation and handling of claims as set forth in your insurance policy. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t retain a lawyer to answer questions, provide advice, and help you through the process.
We recommend that, once you have notified your own insurance company of the accident and have provided basic information to them, you contact a personal injury attorney right away to help you navigate the claims process and to make sure your insurance company treats you fairly. Although you have paid premiums and expect that your own insurance company will take care of you (for example if you are making an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist claim), sometimes your own insurance company will fail to properly handle your claim.
Again, the goal of an insurance company—whether it’s your own insurer or someone else’s—is to limit the amount they pay out on claims. So, you must be careful when you talk to them after an accident, because you could say or do something that will be used against you to reduce the amount the insurance company is willing to pay. An attorney can help make sure you maximize your recovery from all insurance companies involved.
TALK TO A LAWYER BEFORE YOU GIVE ANY RECORDED STATEMENT
A recorded statement can potentially be a powerful piece of evidence. Insurance companies will often request a recorded statement to help with their investigation and assess claims. When it comes to your own insurance company, we believe your rights will be better protected if you talk to a lawyer before providing any recorded statement and ideally, you should have a lawyer present when you give a recorded statement to your own insurance company.
As for providing a recorded statement to an insurance company that represents the driver that caused the accident and your injuries, you should never give a recorded statement to them until you have retained a lawyer to be present during that recorded statement. Even then, we will often reject an insurance company’s request for an interview or recorded statement of our clients because the purpose of the recorded statement is simply to allow the negligent driver’s insurance company to obtain information to be used against you, and there is no obligation to do so. In some cases, we will recommend allowing a negligent driver’s insurance company to take a recorded statement of our injured client, but that is case dependent.
COLORADO LAW HAS LAWS REGARDING COMMUNICATIONS WITH AN INJURED PERSON
Colorado actually prohibits any “person or agent of any person whose interest is adverse to the injured person”—including insurance companies—from taking statements or attempting to settle claims within a certain amount of time after an accident if the injured person is a patient receiving treatment. If a statement is obtained in violation of this statute, the statement cannot be used as evidence. That statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-301, provides:
- If a person is injured as a result of an occurrence which might give rise to liability and said person is a patient under the care of a practitioner of the healing arts or is hospitalized, no person or agent of any person whose interest is adverse to the injured person shall:
- Within thirty days after the date of the occurrence causing the injury, negotiate or attempt to negotiate a settlement with the injured patient;
- Within thirty days after the date of the occurrence causing the injury, obtain or attempt to obtain a general release of liability from the injured patient; or
- Within fifteen days after the date of the occurrence causing the injury, obtain or attempt to obtain any statement, either written, oral, recorded, or otherwise, from the injured patient for use in negotiating a settlement or obtaining a release except as provided by the Colorado rules of civil procedure.
- Any settlement agreement entered into or any general release of liability given by the injured patient in violation of this section shall be void. Any statement, written, oral, recorded, or otherwise, which is given by the injured party in violation of this section may not be used in evidence against the interest of the injured party in any civil action relating to the injury.
Seeking legal help from a personal injury lawyer is critical to making sure your rights are protected, whether you are going up against an individual, a corporation, or an insurance company. When you’ve been injured in a car accident and need a dedicated, sympathetic, and talented personal injury and insurance law attorney with a proven track record of success who will fight for your best interests, contact Whalen Hersh today. We’re happy to offer you a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers to review the details of your case and discuss your legal options. You can reach us in Denver at (720) 307-2666 or in Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000 to learn more.