- Anything you say has the potential to be used against you. A recorded statement locks you into a specific narrative. This is not to say you need time to cook up a story or lie (you absolutely should not). However, moments of high-stress and pain could cloud your memory. If the recorded statement you give doesn’t match precisely with testimony given during deposition and/or trial, the insurer can use this to attack your credibility – which is exactly what they want.
- You may not be required to. If you’re dealing with a third-party insurer, you are likely under no obligation to provide a recorded statement. If your car accident injuries are serious enough that you’re engaging with a third-party insurer outside Florida’s no-fault system, you should probably be working with a lawyer who can advise you of this anyway. If you’re negotiating with your own insurer for personal injury protection or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (the latter of which you should definitely have a lawyer for), you might be contractually obligated to provide a recorded statement to the insurer. But it really depends on the details of the policy language. Don’t just trust vague assertions like, “we can’t process the claim until you give a recorded statement.” Such claims don’t prove you are required, and they’re intended to intimidate you into voluntarily providing recorded evidence. These questions may be designed to trip you up, and the way you answer can determine whether your claim is approved or denied. Talk to a Palm Beach car accident lawyer first.
This and similar issues have arisen before in Florida courts. In late 2006, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal sided with a crash survivor who argued he wasn’t required to give a recorded statement to the insurer – despite the insurer’s firm insistence.
According to court records in Arias v. Affirmative Insurance Company, plaintiff was injured in a West Palm Beach car accident and required medical care as a result. He notified his own insurer so that he could obtain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, pursuant to F.S. 627.736. The insurance company requested the claimant appear in person for an examination under oath, with statements to be transcribed by a court reporter. The claimant was smart and contacted his lawyer before deciding what to do.
The lawyer agreed the claimant would appear for an interview under oath, but not to have that interview recorded in any way. The attorney pointed out the insurance policy did not contain this requirement.
Initially, the auto insurer refused to pay any PIP benefits for this reason. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit, arguing he wasn’t required to give a recorded statement as a condition of receiving benefits. He also alleged the insurer’s refusal to accept his offer to provide a non-recorded statement under oath meant the insurer waived their right to any examination under oath.
The policy did impose a few requirements on the insured for collection of PIP damages. Claimants had to cooperate with the investigation, promptly sent copies of any notices of legal papers, and submit – as often as reasonably required – to both physical exams by the insurer’s chosen doctors AND to an examination under oath. Nothing in the policy indicated that examination under oath was to be recorded.
The trial court reviewed the policy and invited the insurer to verbally request a judgment on the pleadings – which they did, and the trial court ruled in the insurer’s favor. In its reversal, the 4th DCA panel stated plainly that the policy doesn’t contain a requirement that plaintiffs’ under-oath interviews be recorded. Even if there was ambiguity, legal precedent is to decide the case in favor of the insured, as the insurer is the one who wrote the contract. The appeals court reversed and remanded to the lower court for further proceedings.
If you’re injured in a South Florida car accident, contact an attorney before giving a recorded statement to insurers.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Arias v. Affirmative Insurance Company, Dec. 20, 2006, Fla. 4th DCA
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The Stunning Scope of Florida Car Accidents’ Societal Costs, Jan. 5, 2022, Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Blog