AVOID STATEMENTS RECORDED OR SIGNED
Over the many years that I have been practicing workers’ compensation law, I have spoken with many people who are either looking for a workers’ compensation attorney to represent them or who just have some questions they want answered during a time that they are choosing to represent themselves.
A question that I am asked quite frequently is whether or not they, the injured worker, should provide a statement to the insurance adjuster or investigator handling their work-related injury claim on behalf of the employer. My response, which may or may not be adopted by all attorneys is if the employers representative, insurance carrier or other individual acting on the employer’s behalf insists on a recorded statement or a statement that either they write up or the injured worker writes up and signs, is an emphatic “DON’T DO IT!”
The reason I say this is there are too many times that questions (or even a line of questions) depending on how they are worded or presented can have two meanings. Then, depending upon the injured worker’s response to said question or line of questioning, it can be subsequently asserted that they understand the question(s) clearly, knew exactly what was being asked and that, as a result, their answer or answers to such can only be taken or understood to mean one thing. This is not at all the case. In fact, that is one of the main reasons why individuals have attorneys present to represent their rights during deposition testimony – to object to the ambiguous and vague questions or line of questioning to prevent a misunderstanding based upon their client’s response that an insurance carrier or attorney can (and will) use against them in settlement negotiations or at the trial of their matter.
As a result, I believe it’s Ok, for an injured worker who is not represented, to discuss their case and answer questions posed to them on an informal basis. That is, in conversation with, for example, a claims adjuster – where it is explicitly stated and understood that you, as the injured worker, will not agree to a recorded conversation, a recorded statement or a signed statement or summary of a conversation in any way shape or form. If insisted upon by the person or entity seeking the recording or signed statement, you should always decline. If any negative action is taken against you because of such, you should immediately seek the advice and assistance of an attorney to pursue your claim to it’s conclusion – assuming you have not already done so.