What a lot of clients are surprised to learn when they come to us is that sometimes the insurance company who is supposed to help when you are sick or injured on the job, may use your words against you to deny benefits.
Sad, but true.
I'm referring to one of the first moments of truth an injured worker faces after an injury - the recorded statement.
Seems innocent enough, you reason. I'll just tell them in my own words what happened. Tell the truth, you think. Think again. The words you use can (and often are) used against you by the very entity you expect to help you in your time of need.
What Is a Recorded Statement?
The recorded statement is an approach the insurance company uses to investigate your workers' compensation claim to determine if they will accept or deny your claim.
One of the very first things the insurance company often does after you report an injury is to proceed with a recorded statement.
What's Wrong With Giving a Recorded Statement?
Based on our experience, you need to know a few things about the recorded statement:
- The questions can sometimes be asked in such a way as to give the insurance company ammunition they may need to deny your claim.
- If you don't agree to a recorded statement, your claim may very well be denied because the insurance adjuster could potentially argue that you refused to cooperate with their investigation. And as a result, there was insufficient information with which to make a determination.
- The insurance adjuster most likely already knows more about your case then you suspect.
- The insurance adjuster has a better understanding of North Carolina workers' compensation law than you.
If you agree to give a recorded statement, proceed with caution. A wrong answer could damage your case and result in denying you benefits.
How Might an Innocuous Statement Hurt Me?
"I'm fine, thank you"
Let's say you recently suffered a traumatic injury at work. The adjuster calls and states that the call will be recorded. You acknowledge that. After that, the adjuster might start the recorded statement by asking something like "How are you today?"
Naturally, it is good old-fashioned common courtesy to give a rhetorical response along the lines of "I'm fine; thank you." or "I'm doing OK today." However, your response may not be considered rhetorical to the adjuster. It's gospel! The adjuster could very well take those words to mean that you really are fine and the traumatic injury you reported was not that traumatic after all.
Some workplace injuries do not fall under the protections of our state's workers' compensation laws - and insurance companies are keenly aware of this. Let's say, for example, you injure your arm after lifting a box at work. If lifting a box is a normal part of your job then there's a good chance the injury will not be compensable.
During the recorded statement the adjuster might ask "What happened?" They already know your likely answer will be, "I injured my arm lifting a box at work." The next question might be "Did anything unusual happen?" You might think the insurance adjuster is asking if there was a fire, a power outage, maybe an equipment malfunction - something out of the ordinary. Those seem like unusual events to you. But what the insurance adjuster may really be asking is a very pointed question that could potentially be designed to steer your claim toward a quick denial.
Let's go back to the injury sustained while lifting the box. "Unusual" by their definition might mean that this particular box was heavier or lighter than other boxes. Or perhaps the box slipped from your grasp and your arm was injured as you tried to save it from crashing to the ground. This is very important information that injured workers may not consider "unusual." And it is something that could potentially help your case. The adjusters know this! And we know they know it.
Our NC Workers' Comp Lawyers Help With Recorded Statements
The recorded statement is almost always taken over the phone, often because people that participate in the recorded statement live in different cities and states. We find that's a disadvantage to you because the insurance adjuster does not have the opportunity to view you physically to see, firsthand, the difficulties you are experiencing as a result of your workplace injury.
Instead, the insurance adjuster will have to rely on what you say in response to the well-crafted questions they ask you.
If your case is denied because you would not offer a recorded statement, you need to immediately contact an experienced workers' comp attorney to pursue your case and to try to ensure that your rights are protected. By understanding what information the insurance company wants to obtain, we can better equip you to provide honest responses that may reduce the likelihood of your case being denied. We can not only prepare you for the recorded statement, we can also be present with you during your statement to try to ensure your rights are protected.
TIP! As a general rule, experience has taught us the best plan of action when you are asked to give a recorded statement is to immediately contact an experienced workers' comp attorney.
Get a FREE Evaluation From an NC Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Not only do we have many experienced workers' comp attorneys who deal with these issues every day, we have six North Carolina Board Certified specialists in workers' comp law. And we have a number of team members who used to work for the insurance companies - and two who worked at the NC Industrial Commission! So we have a pretty good bead on their game.
Before you proceed with a recorded statement, contact us or call us at 1-866-900-7078. If the insurance company isn't there for you in your time of need, we will certainly do our best to try to help. Call us anytime 24/7.