Recorded Statements to the Insurance Company

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Should I give a recorded statement to an insurance company before consulting with an attorney?

A recorded statement can make or break your case. Even if you do not wish to retain an attorney, we highly recommend that you obtain a free, confidential consultation with the Haig Law Firm BEFORE you give a recorded statement. The call is free with no obligation, but what you learn might make the difference between having a claim accepted or denied by the insurance carrier.  If you have any questions regarding your workers’ compensation claim, feel free to give us a call now at 540-777-1000.

Many injured workers are contacted soon after an on-the-job accident by insurance adjusters (sometimes called “claims representatives,” or “claims examiners”) who are often quite friendly. They will typically request a recorded statement and explain that this is just part of the protocol they must follow when setting up a claim.  As a result, injured workers often provide recorded statements without much thought about critical aspects of Virginia workers’ compensation law that could trigger insurance carrier denials of their claims.  In this respect, some injured workers incorrectly assume that all injuries that occur at work or while “on the clock” will be compensated and leave critically important details out of their statements.  The harsh reality is that for a number of reasons, many on-the-job injuries are not compensable under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.  For this reason, recorded statements can be extremely important to an insurance company’s decision about whether to accept or deny a workers’ compensation claim.  Insurance adjusters are trained to look for grounds to deny workers’ compensation claims.  Make no doubt about it, what an injured worker says during a recorded telephone interview can make the difference between a claim being accepted or denied, and this can often mean the difference between living comfortably while recovering from an injury versus experiencing a financial crisis.   

Take, for example, the hypothetical of a parcel delivery worker who has stated that a lower back injury occurred “while lifting boxes” but failed to mention that the lower back pain started when the worker was lifting one particular box weighing 50 pounds at one particular moment.  That claim may be denied as a repetitive work injury even though, in fact, the injury was not caused by repetitive work activity or cumulative trauma.  If one identifiable incident (lifting a 50-pound box at one particular time) caused the injury, then the claim would likely be compensable.  However, if the injured worker does not know the law concerning repetitive work injuries or cumulative trauma injuries, he or she might not know to emphasize the fact that the injury occurred while lifting a specific box at a specific time. To make matters worse, the insurance adjuster taking the recorded statement in such a case might not feel any incentive to ask the injured worker if the injury occurred when lifting a specific box at a specific time.  The adjuster might simply think to herself, “Lifting boxes sounds repetitive to me.  Therefore, I will deny this claim.”

In fact, some adjusters might even seize upon an injured worker’s statement that an accident occurred while “lifting boxes” and then ask leading questions to support a repetitive work injury defense.  Take a quick look at the following hypothetical dialogue:  

Adjuster:                 “So you were working very hard lifting boxes?”   

Injured Worker: “Yes”  


Adjuster:                 “And you pretty much have to lift boxes and deliver boxes throughout the day, right?”  

Injured Worker: “Yes.”   

Adjuster:                 “And that’s what you were doing on the day of your injury, right?”   

Injured Worker: “Yes.”

Adjuster:                 “And you are very confident this injury resulted from lifting those boxes, correct?”

Injured Worker: “Absolutely.”

Just like that, the injured worker has stumbled into trouble.  Sure, the statement can be explained and rehabilitated during litagation.  But the claim will likely be litigated, and this means wage loss and medical benefits will not be voluntarily paid.

In some cases, insurance carriers may deny claims because they arise from “unexplained accidents.”  Often these denials are likewise based upon injured workers’ recorded statements.  In reality, however, many of these “unexplained” accidents are not, in fact, unexplained.  Take the hypothetical of an injured electrician who fell off a ladder, and, during a recorded statement says something like, “I’m not sure what exactly happened. It all happened so fast. It was just an accident."  The electrician’s claim very well might then be denied as having arisen from an unexplained accident.  The electrician in this example might very well know that the accident occurred because he lost his balance while reaching overhead with one hand to perform a task and this maneuver caused him to lose his balance on the ladder rung.  However, because the electrician has worked off a ladder without falling so many times before, what he really meant to say was something like, “I don’t know why I was not able to keep myself from falling.  I misjudged my ability to reach upward while maintaining my footing on the ladder rung.  The work I was performing essentially threw me off balance.”  If properly counseled, such a claimant would have avoided any statements that are susceptible to an interpretation that would support an unexplained accident defense. 

We have also found that many people are embarrassed to discuss losing their balance and falling, or misjudging something or making “stupid” mistakes that lead to injuries and then make comments that can be interpreted to mean the accident was unexplained.  

In both of the above examples, knowing the law can impact what facts need to be emphasized and what loose or inaccurate statements should be avoided (as they would create needless confusion).  And these are just two examples.  There are numerous other legal defenses to workers’ compensation cases and uncounseled recorded statements can give rise to them.   

Giving a recorded statement to a friendly insurance company adjuster without first speaking with a lawyer might not seem like a big deal, but one small mis-statement during that recorded conversation could result in a denied claim and a world of regret.  Therefore, even if you do not wish to hire an attorney, get a free consultation BEFORE you give a recorded statement. 

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The use of The Haig Law Firm website and its phone number and contact forms do not establish an attorney-client relationship and any information transmitted through this website is not an establishment of, or protected by, any attorney/client relationship.

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