When you are injured on the job, the workers compensation claim that arises will be filed against both your employer and an insurance company. This is why, by the way, that I frequently refer to the “employer/insurer” on this blog and on my web site.
As a worker, your dealings are obviously with your employer – your direct supervisor, a human resources manager or the owner of your company. Once you file a claim, however, responsibility for processing that claim goes to a claims adjuster working for an insurance company. It is possible, therefore, that your supervisor or HR manager may be pleasant, sympathetic and genuinely interested your well being but you may face a very different attitude by the claims adjuster.
Often, your first introduction to the claims adjuster may come when the adjuster contacts you to schedule a recorded statement by phone. Insurance companies use recorded statements to learn more about what happened when you got hurt, but they mainly use these statements to find reasons to deny your claim or limit your medical care.
You should assume that a recorded statement in your workers’ compensation case is like a police interrogation – anything you say can and will be used against you.
This is why I strongly recommend that your avoid participating an a recorded statement before retaining a lawyer to represent you. In my practice, I prepare my clients for recorded statements and I appear with my clients on the phone (using a 3 way telephone conference call).
If the adjuster attempts to mislead you or put words in your mouth, I am there to object or to clarify.
My colleague, Charlotte workers compensation lawyer Bob Bollinger, gives a helpful example of how an unrepresented claimant can unknowingly damage his case by not knowing how to respond to questions during a recorded statement. In Bob’s example, the unrepresented claimant left out an important detail about how an accident happened, resulting in a contested claim that most likely would have been accepted without fuss had this detail been included.
My point here is that every word you utter in a recorded statement or deposition has the potential to be used against you. So, if you find yourself facing the prospect of a recorded statement, I urge you not to discuss your claim with an experienced insurance adjuster without first talking to an experienced workers compensation claimant’s lawyer. My phone number is 770-351-0801 and I am happy to help.