It is a standard question you will hear immediately upon contact from the at-fault parties auto insurance company or corporate home office-after a car accident or personal injury such as a premises liability claim: “We would like you to give a recorded statement.”
The car accident adjuster will make contact with you in very short order after the crash and explain that it is standard procedure for them to need two very simply things: 1) a recorded statement regarding what happened and 2) a medical release so they can collect your medical records and bills. Seems like very reasonable requests and the insurance company is being helpful to you, right? Wrong.
Is It Required?
No. There is absolutely no requirement, much less a legal duty under Georgia law, to provide a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurance company is only asking in the hopes of helping themselves defend against your personal injury claim later.
That is exactly why often times immediately after the car wreck, you will receive an initial letter from the adjuster introducing himself or herself and stating that they will close their file if you do not make contact; provide a statement; and fill out the medical release form sent along with the letter. You can ignore this letter all together because all that matters is that you do not wait to pursue your case past Georgia’s Statute of Limitations (2 yrs.).
The insurance company can and will re-open the file any time it receives information from you, including a copy of a lawsuit. You may and should totally ignore these tactics by Georgia car insurance companies, because they are just that, tactics to protect the insurance company, not you!
Why shouldn’t I give a statement?
After all, I have nothing to hide? While it is true you have nothing to hide, adjusters are trained in how to get admissions out of you without you even knowing that you are helping them defend against an otherwise defenseless case with tricky or open-ended questions that when replayed to a jury out of context appears to be an admission by you to such things as not being badly hurt.
They may 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. They may try to trick you into admitting something that was not true such as how fast you were going at the time, how far away their driver was from you before the collision, or what you did or did not see at the time. Again, adjusters are trained to conduct these interviews and to secure testimony that makes it less likely that their driver is to blame or simply corners you in to that testimony later in the case when it becomes important.
What About The Medical Record Release Authorization?
You may now be thinking, well that makes sense but certainly the medical release request at least a fair request? Wrong, again.
Remember, insurance companies do not do anything to protect your interests. Insurance companies in Georgia will use an executed medical release to collect every medical record for all past treatment to help begin to build a defense to your injury claim that you suffered from pre-existing conditions that explain why you are injured not the crash itself.
To top it all off, the insurance company will not even provide you with copies of what they have collected on you. Never provide a medical release to the insurance company. It can only hurt you.
The insurance company has no legal right to require it. You are the only who should be providing the insurance company with your medical records and billing statements for the treatment received since the injury in question, only. For this reason and many others, if you have a serious injury, hire an Atlanta car accident attorney with experience dealing with insurance companies and corporate home offices before you do something that hurts your claim.
How We Tell Our Clients To Handle These Requests
We tell our clients that the best way to handle these requests is to politely decline to give a recorded statement. Tell the adjuster that you will certainly provide him or her with all related medical records and bills as well as the police report in order for the insurance company to have all the information it needs to make an informed decision about settlement.
We further tell our clients to politely decline to sign the medical authorization form and instead tell the adjuster you.