Many people who have been injured in car accidents in Georgia or on someone else’s premises find themselves approached by the other person’s insurance company and asked for a statement.
Usually, this happens when an insurance adjustor contacts the victim and says that the company needs to have a recorded statement about what happened, as well as a Medical Release to gain access to the victim’s records. While these may seem like reasonable requests, you should never provide this information.
Why? Firstly, you have absolutely no duty to provide a statement or Medical Release, regardless of how many times the adjustor tells you his or her request is “standard.” Even if you receive a letter saying that the company will “close your file” if you do not provide what they want, you can rest assured that this is not the case. In fact, even if they do close a file, it can always be reopened anytime before the Georgia Statute of Limitations. Therefore, you can feel free to ignore the insurance company’s requests.
However, even though you do not have to provide a statement or a Medical Release, the truth is that you should not provide this information either. Why? Many times, “gathering a statement” is merely a way to obtain information they can use against you in court. Adjustors are trained to capitalize on any uncertainties you have that can negatively affect the strength of your case. For example, if you were injured in a car accident on a 35-mph stretch of road, this conversation could occur:
Q: Were you going about the speed limit?
Q: So you were going 45 mph, then?
A: Yeah, I guess.
Keep in mind, the adjustor’s goal is to collect any pieces of information that can make the company’s client appear less responsible. In slip and fall cases in Georgia, this type of leading question is typical:
Q: You don’t really know what you fell in, do you?
A: No, not exactly.
In this example, now that the victim has admitted uncertainty, the company can use this doubt against the victim in court. Why would they want to do this? In Georgia, if the Plaintiff in a slip and fall case cannot say what they fell on or in, the store can then file a Motion for Summary Judgment, effectively ending the case. See the case of Grinold v. Farist 284 Ga.App. 120 (2007) and Christopher v. Donna’s Country Store 236 Ga.App. 219 (1999)
The Other Guys Insurance Company Wants Me to Give a Signed Medical Release After a Car Accident
Should I give the insurance company a signed Medical Release? Now that we have covered statements, you may still be wondering about Medical Release requests. Even though you may feel that it is reasonable to request your medical information, you absolutely do not want to provide this information either. This is because the insurance company’s sole motive in gathering your medical records is being able to say that your medical claims are due to pre-existing conditions. Therefore, giving them this information will only harm your case, and if you have a serious injury that you are uncertain about, it is always better to hire an experienced lawyer than to attempt to navigate the insurance companies alone.
Keep in mind, however, that if you do provide a statement for the insurance company, you have the right to a copy of your statement. According to O.C.G.A. 9-11-26(b)(3), you can get a copy of your statement.
Also keep in mind, though, that you are not entitled to receive any of the defendant’s statements, which are made as they prepare for possible litigation. OCGA § 9-11-26(b)(3); Sturgill v. Garrison 219 Ga. App. 306 (1995)