Should I Give a Statement to the Insurance Company?
Car Insurance companies will often ask you to give a recorded statement after a car accident and almost always when there is a premises liability claim. The car accident insurance adjuster will make contact after the crash and explain that it is standard procedure for them to need 1) a recorded statement and 2) a Medical Release so they can gather your records. These seem like logical requests right? Wrong.
First understand that you have no duty whatsoever to provide a recorded statement to the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company will often send letters to you after a car crash stating that they will "close their file" if you do not make contact and give a statement. You can ignore the letter because the file can be reopened at any time so long as you don't wait past the Georgia Statute of Limitations. You may totally ignore these tactics by Atlanta car insurance companies.
Why shouldn't I give a statement you may ask? The answer is that the insurance adjusters are trained in how to get admissions out of you with trick questions. For example if you assume the speed limit was 35 miles per hour, they may ask:
Q: and were you traveling around the speed limit?
Q: So you were going around 45 miles per hour?
A: I guess so.
They may also try to get you to admit that you did not do anything to avoid the collision, even if there was nothing you could have done. Adjusters are trained to conduct these interviews and to secure testimony that makes it less likely that their driver is to blame.
In the context of Georgia slip and fall cases, the main goal is to get the injured person to admit that they do not know what they fell on. For example if you had fallen on liquid, but you were not sure what it was, they would ask:
Q: So you don't know what you fell on do you?
A: Not really.
When the litigation begins later, they will pin you to that statement and under Georgia Slip and Fall law, if the Plaintiff cannot state what they fell on, then the store is entitled to get out of the case on a Motion for Summary Judgment. See Grinold v. Farist 284 Ga.App. 120 (2007); Christopher v. Donna's Country Store 236 Ga.App. 219 (1999)
The insurance company wants me to sign a Medical Release. That seems like a fair request, right? Wrong. Insurance companies in Georgia will use that release to collect every medical record for your from the previous five years and they will not provide you with copies. The purpose of the records is to try and establish that you had a pre-existing condition. Never ever give a medical release to the insurance company as it can only hurt your case. If you have a serious injury, hire an Atlanta injury lawyer, with years of experience under their belt before you take steps that cannot be undone.
If you do give a recorded statement to the insurance company, you are entitled to a copy of your own statement. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 9-11-26(b)(3), "A party may obtain, without the required showing, a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. Paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 applies to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion."
Note that as Savannah car accident attorneys we do have to advise you that you do not have a right to a copy of the defendant's recorded statement taken by their own insurance company as it is protected work product when taken in anticipation of litigation. OCGA § 9-11-26(b)(3); Sturgill v. Garrison 219 Ga. App. 306 (1995)