Early in your Oregon or Washington injury case, there is a lot of activity, including calls from adjusters, and letters from attorneys. There are also forms to sign and fill out. So, should you be giving a taped statement?
Here are my thoughts:
First, giving a statement will almost never help your case. These cases are often made up of several layers of statements. First, there is the police report, if there is one, with your statement. Then, when you go to the doctor or hospital, there are statements you make to the doctor. An adjuster is going to be looking at them. Then, if you file your case in court, there is a deposition, which is sworn testimony. So, do you think you are going to remember exactly what you said to some adjuster days after your collision, and be able to recite that exactly at deposition? Probably not.
So, if you can at all help it, you should avoid giving a taped statement to the liability carrier, especially if there is a police report that will teach the adjuster what happened, and who is at fault. The truth is that liability adjusters, who represent the other party, or in a legally adverse position to you (plain English: the other side). They are trained to get you make statements that can be later used against you. Does this happen all the time? No, it does not, but it happens enough for me to say don't do it.
What about your insurance company?
If you live in Oregon, or the car you were in is insured in Oregon, then you have Personal Injury Protection coverage, and your insurance company, or the company covering the car you were riding in may want a statement. However, keep in mind that the Personal Injury protection is a "no fault" benefit, so the carrier should really not have to be asking a lot of questions about the collision. Still, where liability, or fault, is an issue, you may be talking with your company.
In Washington, the same rules apply, but the Personal Injury Protection is an optional coverage, so you first need to investigate whether the Personal Injury Protection is available.
What about your car?
A lot of times you are going to be dealing with a separate adjuster from the other driver's company for property damage. If these folks have decided to pay for repairs, or total your car, then chances are they are conceding that a judge or jury would be finding their insured at fault. You will have to work with this adjuster, but a statement should not be necessary.
There are cases where the insurance adjuster for the other driver will refuse to resolve property damage issues until an investigation is completed, which includes a statement. You may want to provide a written summary of the events leading up to the accident, or refer the adjuster to the police report. If that does not do the trick, contact the State of Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Insurance Division. In Washingon, contact the Insurance Commissioner.
If you are getting hounded to give a statement, and you need to know where you stand, order or free eBook, or call us at 503-325-8600. We love dealing with adjusters, and we are good at it!