So you were injured at work in South Carolina, reported the injury to your employer immediately, and sought medical treatment. Now, your case will be assigned to a claims adjuster who works for your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance company.
One of the first things the claims adjuster will likely do is ask you for a recorded statement. Be careful – what you say during your statement can play a big role in whether the insurance company will accept or deny your claim.
What Is a Recorded Statement?
A recorded statement is an interview between the insurance adjuster and the injured worker (and hopefully the worker’s attorney). This Q&A session is usually done over the phone but can also be done in person.
The meeting is recorded, and the recording is transcribed into a document that the insurance company uses to understand what happened in your workplace accident and to determine whether to pay or deny your claim.
First and foremost, I strongly advise you to talk to a lawyer before giving ANY statement to the insurance company, recorded or otherwise. If the insurance company is absolutely insisting on obtaining a statement and you have not hired an attorney with experience handling South Carolina workers’ comp claims, you might suggest to the claims adjuster that you would consider making a non-recorded statement. Regardless, you should proceed with any statement with your lawyer by your side.
How I Help My Clients Handle Their Recorded Statement
I personally do not allow my clients to make recorded statements. However, occasionally I will allow my clients to make non-recorded statements – but only in my presence. I accompany them when they make these statements because I want to ensure the adjuster does not take advantage of them or ask unfair and leading questions. I want to help them build the strongest case possible, and I know that an innocent answer to a deliberately confusing question can be misconstrued and used against an injured employee.
For example, let’s assume that you’ve suffered an injury related to repetitive trauma. A repetitive trauma injury is an injury which is gradual in onset and caused by the cumulative effects of repetitive traumatic events. The statute of limitations in S.C. for a workers’ compensation claim is generally two years.
But, what if you’ve been suffering from pain for longer than two years, and you just recently found out from your doctor that your work activities are responsible for your symptoms?
Saying the wrong thing to an adjuster during a statement could make for a very easy denial.
Do I Have to Give a Recorded Statement?
Some insurance claims adjusters may make it seem like you are required to give a recorded statement in order to receive your benefits. This is not true. South Carolina law does not require you to give a recorded statement.
While a recorded statement can provide the information needed to process your claim, and may actually help speed up the processing, it is generally advisable to have your attorney present when providing one. I often offer a compromise with adjusters and will allow non-recorded statements made in my presence.
3 Ways the Insurance Company Can Trap You With Your Workers’ Comp Recorded Statement
There are three main ways some insurance company adjusters may try to take advantage of you during a recorded statement: leading questions, irrelevant questions, and bullying questions.
- Leading Questions
Some adjusters may not permit you to give an open-ended account of your accident and injuries and will only ask specific questions instead. This can result in an inaccurate record of your injuries or illness.
For example, if you slipped and fell at work and broke your leg, the adjuster may only ask questions about your leg in the recorded statement. However, you may have also sustained a wrist injury from the fall. If you were not given the opportunity to discuss the wrist injury on the call, the claims adjuster may try to deny medical coverage for your wrist by pointing to the fact that you did not mention it during the recorded statement.
- Irrelevant questions
Sometimes, claims adjusters can appear to be friendly, even chatty, on the call and may ask questions that are not related to your work accident injuries. Do not assume that these questions are just conversational chit chat.
For example, questions that delve into your background and history can unearth information that may be used against you. I have had to stop adjusters from asking probing questions about clients’ financial situations. If they can determine that an injured worker is financially unstable, some may threaten to delay payment or deny the claim in an attempt to get the worker to accept a low-ball settlement offer.
- Bullying Questions
Some adjusters may try to wear you down or bully you into agreeing to statements that are false or incomplete. Your answers can be used against you to reduce or deny compensation.
For example, an adjuster may try to get you to admit that you can’t remember something clearly or aren’t 100% sure of a fact. You may be tempted to answer “Sure” or “I guess” just to finish the recorded statement, but you may be arming them with ammunition to use against you later.
Types of Questions Injured Workers Can Expect in a Recorded Statement
Common questions for recorded statements usually focus on the accident and work injury that occurred, such as:
- What happened?
- Were there any witnesses?
- What type of injury did you sustain from the accident?
Some adjusters may ask other questions to solicit an answer that can be used to discredit or devalue your claim, such as:
- How are you doing today?
Many people automatically respond “fine” to this question, and that can be used to discredit your claim of injury.
- Have you been taking any medication?
The adjuster may be trying to establish that you were you under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident.
- What were you doing the night before the accident?
The adjuster may be trying to prove that you were incapacitated in some way when you were injured, which could help them deny your claim.
- Were you following protocol?
The adjuster may be trying to prove that you were “goofing off” or acting unsafely in an effort to deny your claim.
- Have you injured the same body part before?
The adjuster may be trying to establish that your injury was a pre-existing condition and not a work injury.
How a Workers’ Comp Attorney Can Help You With Your Recorded Statement
Claims adjusters from for-profit companies are motivated to save the workers’ compensation insurance company money, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to deny claims. Some may rely on recorded statements to find information that helps them deny claims.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand the questions asked in a recorded statement – as well as provide guidance on how to answer them accurately while trying to not provide information that can be used to deny your claim or minimize the value of any settlement later.
In addition, an attorney can ensure that you provide information on all your injuries, even if the adjuster tries to focus only on one.
Remember: Recorded statements can’t be corrected – once you say something, it is part of the “record.” This is one very important reason why I don’t allow my clients to make recorded statements.
If you are an injured worker, I encourage you to speak to a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney before speaking to the insurance company.
At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, We Put You First
Call us for a free case evaluation, and share your story. We will only take your case if we think we can help you get more compensation than you would without us. If you decide to hire us, and we decide that you should give a recorded statement, we will help you every step of the way.
Our workers’ comp team has substantial workers’ comp experience. Several of our lawyers are former defense attorneys for insurance companies – and some were even claims adjusters. We use this “other side” knowledge to help protect our clients and fight for their rights.
The result? Our firm was named to the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list with a Tier 1 ranking (the highest) for Workers’ Compensation law – and that was the eighth consecutive year!3
If you have been injured at work and are being asked to give a recorded statement, give us a call first at 1-866-900-7078. Tell them you mean business!