If you were bitten by a dog in Flagstaff or Northern Arizona, you should not be surprised if the insurance company for the dog owner contacts you soon after you’re injured. During the course of the conversation, the insurance adjuster may request that you give a recorded statement.
However, it is crucial to understand that you should not agree to their request. Our experienced Flagstaff personal injury attorneys at Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC explain why giving a recorded statement could hurt your claim and how we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve under Arizona law.
What Is a Recorded Statement?
A recorded statement is an audio or video recording of your account of the events related to your dog bite injury. An insurance adjuster representing the dog owner's insurance company will typically conduct this interview. During the recorded statement, you will be asked questions about the incident, your injuries, and other details relevant to your claim.
After a recorded statement is given, the insurance company will transcribe it into a written document. This document and your statements could be used against you during settlement negotiations and/or in court.
Why Does the Insurance Company Want to Take My Recorded Statement?
It is essential to understand why the insurance company is requesting that you give a recorded statement. The insurance adjuster may claim that taking your recorded statement is a routine part of their investigation of a dog bite claim and they need yours to settle your claim. However, this is not true. You are not required to give a recorded statement when pursuing your right to compensation under Arizona's dog bite laws.
The insurance adjuster's primary goal in requesting a recorded statement is to gather information they can use to evaluate and potentially undermine your dog bite injury claim. Here are some reasons they want to take your statement:
Insurance companies want to minimize the amount they pay out in claims. By obtaining your statement, the insurance adjuster hopes to gain leverage in negotiations and potentially offer you a lower settlement or deny your claim.
Gather Evidence Against You
Insurance adjusters are experienced in asking questions that might lead you to make statements that can be used against you later. They may attempt to get you to admit fault or downplay the severity of your injuries.
Assess the Strength of Your Claim
The insurance company wants to gauge how strong your case is. They may use your statement to determine whether you have a solid case or if they can pressure you into accepting a lower settlement.
Four Reasons a Recorded Statement Could Hurt Your Flagstaff Dog Bite Case
You may see no harm in giving a recorded statement if you know you did nothing wrong to cause the dog to attack and bite you. However, even if you have nothing to hide, giving a recorded statement would be a big mistake that could weaken your claim. Here are five reasons to say no to this request:
#1: Risk of Inaccuracies
Immediately after a dog bite incident, you may not have had the opportunity to fully understand the extent of your injuries or gather all the necessary evidence. Providing a statement without complete information can lead to inaccuracies, especially about the seriousness of your injuries, that may harm your case.
#2: Potential for Misinterpretation
Your words may be taken out of context or misinterpreted by the insurance adjuster. What you say during the recorded statement can be used against you later, even if you didn't intend it to be harmful.
#3: Inconsistent Statements
The insurance adjuster is trained to ask tricky questions to confuse you and get you to make a damaging statement. No matter how careful you are when answering their questions, you could say something that is inconsistent with a statement you made in the past.
#4: Undetermined Future Costs
Dog bites can cause traumatic brain injuries, nerve damage, infections, internal organ damage, and other severe injuries that result in ongoing medical expenses, rehabilitation, and emotional trauma. You cannot know how long your medical treatment will continue or how long you may be off work while recovering from your injuries until months or longer after your dog bite. When giving a recorded statement, you may underestimate the full extent of your future costs and damages.
Other Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Flagstaff Dotg Bite Claim
You could inadvertently make other mistakes after being attacked by a dog that could weaken your dog bite case and force you to accept less compensation when you settle your claim with the insurance company. Here are the leading mistakes that you want to avoid:
Not Obtaining the Dog Owner's Contact Information
Identifying the dog's owner is vital for your claim. You cannot file a claim with their insurance company without knowing who they are and how to contact them. After the attack, try to obtain the owner's name, contact information, and insurance details.
Not Seeking Immediate Medical Attention
Failing to seek prompt medical attention can severely jeopardize your health and your claim. Traumatic brain injuries, infections, nerve damage, and internal organ damage can worsen or become life-threatening if you do not get the necessary medical care.
In addition, delaying medical care can cause problems when you file your insurance claim. The insurance adjuster could argue that your injuries are unrelated to the dog bite or are not as severe as you claim.
Not Collecting Evidence
Having strong evidence is the backbone of a successful dog bite claim. However, many victims fail to collect and preserve evidence related to the attack. Crucial evidence you do not want to lose includes the following:
Not Getting Photographs
Take pictures of your injuries, the scene where you were attacked, the dog, and any relevant details. These visual records will serve as invaluable evidence of how the dog attack occurred and your injuries.
Not Collecting Witness Statements
Obtain contact information from any witnesses, so they can provide statements about what they saw during the attack. Witness testimony can corroborate your account and strengthen your case, especially if the insurance company claims you were partially at fault in causing the dog attack. These eyewitnesses could disappear, or their memories might fade if you do not collect their contact information right away and get their version of what happened.
Not Reporting the Dog Bite to Animal Control
Under Arizona law, dog bite owners, victims, and witnesses are required to report a dog bite to their local animal control agency. You would violate this law if you did not report the dog attack. In addition, you would lose documentation that the dog bit you if the owner or their insurance company disputes this.
Not Adhering to Arizona's Statute of Limitations
In Arizona, as in most states, a statute of limitations limits the time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. In dog bite cases, this deadline typically begins from the date of the attack, and you have two years from that date to file your complaint in court. Failing to file your lawsuit within this time frame will most likely result in your case being dismissed.
Accepting a Quick Settlement of Your Claim
If the insurance company for the dog owner knows that you have a strong case, they may offer you a quick settlement of your claim. This offer would most likely be for far less compensation than you deserve. Do not make the mistake of settling your claim too soon or agreeing to a settlement without first consulting with a lawyer.
Not Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
One of the most critical mistakes is failing to hire a knowledgeable Flagstaff personal injury lawyer immediately after the dog attack. An attorney can collect the evidence you need to help win your case and will have a network of expert witnesses they can hire if necessary to resolve disputes with the insurance company.
They will also determine the value of your claim and fight with the insurance company for the damages you are entitled to. If the time period to sue will expire soon, they will file your lawsuit and litigate your claim.