Working With Insurance Companies
We don't advocate giving a personal interview or a telephone interview to any insurance adjuster in a slip and fall case. Ever.Why not?
Grow up. Insurance Companies are not people. You cannot get them angry. You cannot make them care about you and your injury.
Insurance companies do not take interviews because they care about you or your injury. They are looking for an avenue to destroy your case. And statements can do that because you aren't sufficiently prepared.
We here at Shaw Law realize this is a controversial method of litigating a case. After all, won't a lack of a personal statement show a lack of cooperation? Won't the insurance company and its adjusters become angry and punish you?1. Adjusters are Looking for Contradictions or Bad Facts During Statements Before a Lawsuit is Filed
Once again, please don't be naive. Adjusters will hate your case regardless whether you cooperate or not. Insurance company adjusters want your statement for one reason and one reason only -- hoping you say something that makes your case worse. This can include topics like the weather, your footwear and your injuries or recovery.
But, wait says the lawyers reading this page. That doesn't make sense. We all know that insurance adjusters' interviews won't be used in court, because then the plaintiff's lawyer (us) gets to bring up the fact that insurance exists, right?
Not true. I've seen insurance statements used in court and the defense lawyer suffers the sling and arrows of the revelation of insurance (and most jurors don't care whether insurance exists or not, in my humble opinion -- but that's a blog for another day).
And even if the statement cannot be used in court, it can certainly be used in your "real" statement during a slip and fall case -- your deposition. That's because the deposition questions that can be answered or infinitely wider in scope than the questions that can be asked of you during a court case in front of a jury.
For example, let's look at the topic of weather. Let's assume that during your statement given shortly after the slip and fall that you stated "it was snowing hard" at the time of your fall. But, then during your deposition (often taken a year or more later) you say "it had snowed earlier that day, but was not snowing" at the time of your fall. This is an important topic because Indiana law recognizes that landowners cannot always be expected to reasonably clear their property from ice and snow if the storm is in progress.
So, a good defense lawyer will ask "Ma'am, isn't it true you said shortly after the slip and fall that it was snowing heavily at the time of the fall?" And if you cannot recall, then the insurance adjuster's question and your statement can be read into your deposition record. It might not be admissible in court, we admit that -- but it certainly doesn't help the value of your settlement.
That's one big reason we don't advise you give a statement.2. You'll Give a Statement Anyway Later in the Case -- It's Called a Deposition After You File Your Lawsuit and You Should do it When We Can Prepare You
You will give a statement during the case -- it's called a deposition. It's a sworn statement given to the defense attorney under oath in front of a court reporter who will type your answers into a transcript.
But, that's after you've hired Shaw Law. Not before. And this blog concerns whether you should give a statement before you file a lawsuit.
Once again, I say this with the utmost respect for my fellow attorneys. But, you'd be surprised how many lawyers I've seen who do not prepare a client for a deposition. Every fact of the case should be talked about and reviewed during a sit-down meeting with your attorney. We do that. Every pertinent medical record should be looked at and the importance of those records should be discussed.
You can be guaranteed that the defense lawyer has reviewed your medical records in full. That's what defense lawyers do best -- allege you are not hurt or that your injury was a pre-existing condition.
But, what if we are trying to settle the case? Won't a Statement Help? Do we need to file a lawsuit?3. Yes, Your Slip and Fall Case Will Almost Always be Filed as a Lawsuit
Slip and fall cases are defended more vigorously by big businesses and its insurance companies than any other type of case. That's because they believe that a jury will always blame the person who fell -- after all, doesn't everyone have a measure of personal responsibility to be safe and not fall down? Of course. But, many slip and falls occur because the landowner failed to follow simple, basic safety rules.
So, if the case is going to be filed anyway -- why give a statement before filing the lawsuit and another one after the lawsuit (the deposition)?
It doesn't make any sense.
We Get You Back on Your Feet.