The Short Answer Is: Not Before Talking To A Lawyer
You most likely will get contacted by your insurance company and possibly the insurance company for the at fault driver soon after your accident. It's natural to want to be helpful and to talk to these insurance adjusters. But I can't stress enough how careful you must be in dealing with the insurance companies. There are many good people who work for the insurance companies, but you must remember they are not your friend and they are not in the business of making it easy for someone to collect money. My advice to clients is to only speak to the insurance company adjustor about property damage issue. Issues relating ONLY to getting your car fixed or paid for in cases where your car is a total loss. When and if the conversation turns to your injuries or how the accident happened, you must be much more careful.
When dealing with your own car insurance company in Massachusetts you have an obligation to cooperate with them if you are seeking benefits under your policy. Your insurance company also has a legal right to require you to give an Examination Under Oath if they request one. An Examination Under Oath is a formal, in-person statement where a representative from your insurance company, often a lawyer, asks you questions that you must answer under the pains and penalties of perjury. Under no circumstance should you give an Examination Under Oath without first speaking to (and preferably hiring) an attorney. We routinely provide free advice to people on this issue even if they do not ultimately become a client.
Oftentimes an insurance company, will request a Recorded Statement. This is different from an Examination Under Oath in several ways. A Recorded Statement is not given under oath and is most often taken by an insurance adjustor, not a lawyer. Also, a recorded statement is often taken over the phone. The adjustor will ask you questions and record what you say. As stated above, when dealing with your insurance company they have the right to an Examination Under Oath for which you cannot refuse without forfeiting your right to receive benefits. Occasionally your own insurance company will first ask for a Recorded Statement (which you are not required to give) and then later assert their right to take an Examination Under Oath. What this does is give your insurance company two bites at the apple to see if your story ever changes. We frequently suggest that if our client’s insurance company is adamant about getting a recorded statement that we make it an Examination Under Oath and be done with it.
Also, under no circumstances do we recommend someone speak to the at fault insurance company insurance adjuster without first speaking to an attorney.
Our Recommendations About Communicating with Insurance Companies:
- IF ITS YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
- Speak freely about damage issues to your car.
- Speak to a lawyer BEFORE talking to them about how the accident happened or your injuries.
- ALWAYS get a lawyer if a statement or Examination Under Oath is requested.
- IF IT’S THE AT FAULT DRIVER’S INSURANCE COMPANY
- Always speak to a lawyer BEFORE talking to the at fault driver’s insurance company.
- ALWAYS get a lawyer if a statement is requested.