After an accident, you might file an insurance claim to get damages. This process can feel very casual, especially if you are submitting the claim on an app or a website. However, any information you give to the insurance company can be used in court – and recorded statements are often requested by insurance companies after injury claims.
If you are asked to give a recorded statement or other reports to an insurance company, say that you have to consult your lawyer first. Speaking with a lawyer before giving any sort of deposition, testimony, or recorded statement is incredibly important when it comes to protecting your rights. Anything you say could end up being used against you, so talk to a lawyer first and have your lawyer present with you during the recording if you can.
Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Baltimore personal injury lawyers represent victims and are happy to counsel our clients before testimony and represent them during any interviews or other steps in a case. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys today at (410) 694-7291.
Speaking to a Lawyer Before Making any Statements About an Accident
If you were in an accident, the first person you talk to should be the first responders who come to help you, and the second should be a lawyer. After many types of accidents, especially car accidents, victims think that their best option to have their injuries taken care of is to file an insurance claim. No matter what kind of insurance is handling your case – and no matter whether the insurance is your own insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance – you should avoid talking to them until you have a lawyer.
There are many intricate legal principles that deal with statements you make after an accident. Most people are familiar with “Miranda rights,” which say that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. Those rights are for criminal cases only, but a series of rules and regulations allow statements to be used against you in a civil case as well – which is the kind of case you would file for an accident.
When you work with an Ocean City personal injury lawyer, your lawyer can help you understand how the words you use and the specific phrasing that you choose can affect your case. In many cases, saying certain things could even be considered an admission of fault, which will put you on a track toward losing your injury case. If the statement is recorded, it provides strong proof of what you said and could jeopardize your case even further.
If you have a lawyer representing you, no one from any insurance company or any other party should speak to you about the case without your lawyer present. This can help protect your rights in many ways, which we will discuss below.
Ways a Recorded Statement Can Be Used Against You in a Maryland Injury Case
If you make a recorded statement to an insurance company, they can use that statement in a few different ways. Any of these rules and legal issues could be bad for you if the statement you made contains information you should not have shared or if the words you used are inaccurate.
Statements made to insurance companies can often be used in any of the following ways, potentially providing evidence against you. Other issues outside of this list also could come up in your case.
If an insurance company has a statement from you, they can use that in deciding whether or not to pay your claim. Anything you tell them will be used as evidence, and if the statement says you were at fault or includes information that makes it harder to prove fault, that could be enough for the insurance company to reject the claim.
Insurance companies are not strictly held to the Maryland Rules of Evidence or other restrictions on what statements can and can’t be used in reviewing your claim, so they can use any statement or information you give them when denying a claim.
Statements by Party-Opponent
In civil cases, Maryland’s Rules of Evidence prevent hearsay from being used as evidence. “Hearsay” includes any statement made outside of the courtroom that is offered as proof that what is said in that statement is true. Everything contained in a recorded statement would be hearsay because it isn’t made on the witness stand as part of a court case, and it usually would not be allowed as evidence.
However, any statement you make can be used against you in court if you are a party to the case. These “statements by party-opponent” are common in civil cases and are usually used to say that statements like, “I’m sorry,” or, “I can’t believe I did that,” are admissions of fault after an accident. A recorded statement is even stronger proof because the court can hear the specific words you used played back and decide what they mean for themselves.
“Impeaching” a witness is the process of challenging what they say, typically by challenging their memory of events or their trustworthiness as a witness. If you give a recorded statement and the information in that statement doesn’t match what you say in court, the insurance company will be able to produce your recorded statement and show that it contradicts your current testimony. Worst case scenario, this could make the jury think you’re lying now. it is vital to work with a lawyer to make sure that your story is always consistent across all recorded statements, depositions, and testimony about your accident.
Additionally, anything you say in the recorded statement could be used to impeach your testimony at trial if the statement concerns your ability to remember what happened or your trustworthiness. For instance, saying something casual like, “Sorry, I’m really forgetful,” or, “The details are fuzzy,” could absolutely damage your case if a jury heard that recording. A recorded statement like that could show the jury that anything you say could be the result of misremembered facts, making it harder for them to believe what you say.
Call Our Maryland Injury Attorneys Today
If you were involved in an accident in Maryland, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Prince George County personal injury lawyers before contacting any insurance companies or making any statements to the other parties involved. Call (410) 694-7291 for a free case consultation.