You are the innocent party in a motor vehicle accident – a victim. Clearly, you have nothing to hide and in fact, would like to get a few things straightened out!
You need treatment, you are off work without income, you have no transportation and your vehicle is going to take a month in the repair shop. Wouldn’t it be great to resolve all these issues?
Your telephone or doorbell rings with the miraculous offer of a quick fix. Indeed, the at-fault insurance adjuster seems to be at your beck and call; able and willing to resolve your many concerns with only a little cooperation from you.
Immediately upon contact from the at-fault parties auto insurance company, you will likely be asked to provide a statement. If you refuse, you will likely be encouraged to chat about the circumstances of the accident or your health. Should you comply?
You think, “Why not, after all, I have nothing to hide.”
Of course, you don’t have anything to hide but the bigger question is: what will be served if you are helpful? Because….make no mistake…you ARE being helpful – to the at-fault driver. You can be particularly helpful by not only providing information but then signing a medical release so your medical records can be accessed. Again, it seems like a very reasonable request and the insurance company is only being helpful to you, right? Wrong.
There is no requirement, much less a legal duty under Alberta law to provide a statement or medical release 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. The at-fault insurer has a job to do. That job is to minimize the exposure for that insurance company. It’s NOT to help you!
Often, immediately after the car accident, 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 or fill out the medical release form sent along with the letter. Ignore this letter all together! No one cares if an insurance company opens or closes a file. Your claim is only limited by the law in Alberta, which sets out the time required to file a Statement of Claim. There is no limitation for contacting an insurance company because you never actually have to do it. These are simply tactics used by insurance companies to protect themselves.
Even understanding that you don’t HAVE to give a statement, you may wonder why you SHOULDN’T. After all, you have nothing to hide!
While it is true you have nothing to hide, the answer is that 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. They are good at getting information aimed at minimizing your claim. Please note that nothing you say to help yourself is ever going to be quoted by a party adverse in interest to you. If you say 10 things that help your case and 1 that doesn’t, it’s the 1 that doesn’t that you going to hear about. The 10 are never going to be mentioned. Even questions that seem innocuous may not be…
You may now be thinking, well that makes sense but perhaps the medical release is at least a fair request? Wrong, again. Remember, insurance companies do not do anything to protect your interests. Insurance companies 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. They may be trying to prove that you suffered from pre-existing conditions explaining why your ongoing symptoms are not related to 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 it.
Your lawyer needs to control the flow of information to the other side. That includes general information, under-oath evidence and your medical records. For this reason (and many others), if you have a serious injury, hire a Personal Injury Lawyer Edmonton with understanding and experience dealing with insurance companies. Talk to one of the lawyers at Robinson LLP BEFORE you take a step that hurts your claim.
For your free consultation, call or contact us online today.