Attorney Patrick JarrettThe typical scenario sounds like this: Three days after you are injured in an auto accident, you receive a phone call from the other driver’s auto insurance company asking you to provide them a little information about the accident and your injuries. Should you to talk to them?
The answer is, “No”!
If you have been injured in an accident, don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company, talk to an attorney!
Even if the questions sound harmless — such as questions about the date, time, and location of the accident — they could potentially harm your case. Anything you say to the other driver or their insurance company can be used against you at a later date to deny your claim or lower their potential liability for damages. For instance, if you don’t remember all the facts during that phone call, the insurance company’s adjusters or attorneys could try to use this against you later on to attack your version of the facts. Any discrepancies between what you say in that phone call and statements you may give later in the case – however minor – could come back to haunt your case.
Statements to Your Own Insurance
Another rule of thumb is to contact your own insurance within a few hours of being in an accident. This ensures you do not violate any notice provisions which may be in your insurance contract that are necessary to maintain coverage. However, reporting you have been in an accident and providing the date and time is not the same thing as providing a full statement regarding your version of the events.
If you have Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage and your own insurer requests a statement, you should probably consult with an attorney first. In a UM situation, your own insurance company will likely be the entity – or at least one of the entities – defending the case against you. Therefore, any statements you provide to your own insurance company could eventually be used by the UM carrier against you at a later date.
A best practice is to simply consult with a personal injury attorney anytime an insurer requires you to provide a statement. If a statement is absolutely necessary, you can provide that statement with your attorney on the phone, and record the statement yourself so you have an accurate record of exactly what was said.
Obtaining Your Statements
If you are unsure whether you gave any statements about your case, you should eventually be able to obtain any copies of the statements. If your own insurance took the statement, your contract will probably allow you to get a copy. If the other driver’s insurer took the statement, you can obtain the statement during litigation under Georgia law. Normally, parties are not allowed to see each others notes about the case due to the attorney-client privilege. However, Georgia code section 9-11-26 contains a specific exception to this rule when it is the party’s own statement to the other side. Therefore, any statements you made in the past to the other driver, or the other driver’s insurance carrier, are discoverable to prevent you from being blind-sided by them later in the case or at trial.
If you have been injured in an accident, call the personal injury attorneys at Jarrett & Price today for a free consultation at 800-206-1032. Our attorneys represent clients throughout the state of Georgia with offices in Savannah, Georgia; Clarkesville, Georgia; and Cleveland, Georgia. We represent accidnet victims throughout northeast Georgia, including Habersham County, White County, Stephens County, Rabun County and all surrounding northeast Georgia counties. We also represent clients throughout southeast Georgia in Chatham County, Liberty County, Bryan County, Effingham County and all surrounding areas.