If someone’s negligence caused your injury, you may have given them a written statement about the accident or injury.
Is the person who took your written statement required to give you a copy?
Yes. He or she must give you a copy of your written statement at the time that he or she takes it.
Florida Statute 92.33 says that:
“…every person who takes a written statement by any injured person with respect to any accident or with respect to any injury to person or property shall, at the time of taking such statement, furnish to the person making such statement a… complete copy thereof.”
Does the manager usually give you a copy of your written statement?
Sometimes yes and other times no. It really depends on the manager and the business that you are dealing with. I talk about insurance companies a further below.
What happens if you weren’t given a copy at the time of the accident or injury?
You can request it from any person who took you written statement or has possession of it. A personal representative can request it as well.
The person who took the statement or has possession of it must give you a copy of it. Although your request doesn’t have to be in writing, you should request the statement in writing.
When you request your statement, be very careful to use your words wisely. Your request can later be used against you in court.
Keep it simple.
Don’t give a written statement without an attorney
After you have reported the accident, do not give a written or verbal statement without an attorney.
Time after time, injured people hired me after they have made the mistake of giving a statement to the liable party. Don’t fall into this class of people.
The responsible party’s adjuster may seem like a sweetheart. However, their duty is to their employer or client, not you.
I dread reading a statement that my client gave before they hired me. That being said, I have settled many Florida personal injury cases for fair value even though I was hired after my clients gave a statement.
The adjuster may also use any harmful information in it against you during settlement negotiations.
What if the person who took or has the statement won’t give it to you after your request?
They then can’t use the statement against you as evidence or in any manner in any personal injury claim relating to the statement.
Should you request a copy of your statement in your first letter to an insurance company (or any liable party)?
Yes. In my letter to an insurance company – or any liable party – requesting disclosure of insurance information, I ask for copies of all written statements that they have.
This is one of the 10 or 15 things that I ask for. Asking for everything in one letter saves time. It also makes you look prepared to the claims adjuster.
All things equal, prepared claimants tend to get better settlements.
Do Insurers Usually Give You a Copy of Your Statement?
Yes. I have always been able to get a copy of my client’s statement from an insurance company. This includes statements that my client gave over the phone.
Sometimes the insurer will send me a CD that contains an audio recording of my client’s statement. Other times they will send me a typed transcript. You should always ask for both.
Some insurers that have given me a copy of my clients’ statements are State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Progressive, USAA and Liberty Mutual. I have received copies of my clients’ statements from countless other insurers as well.
If an insurance company won’t give you a copy of your statement, how can you get it?
The quickest way is to make written requests to the adjuster’s supervisor and claims manager. You can also file a consumer complaint against the insurance company with the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation.
Does Florida’s Adjuster Code of Ethics Require an Insurance Adjuster To Give you a Copy of Your Statement?
No. Florida’s adjuster code of ethics used to mention this, but no longer does.
Will a company give you a copy of your statement?
If one of those companies hurt you and you gave a statement, whether you get it may depend on the adjuster and the company’s policy.
Other large companies like Target and Winn Dixie use third party administrators (TPAs) like Sedgwick, Gallagher Bassett, Broadspire, Optacomp. If you gave a statement to one of these TPAs, it may depend on their client’s procedures as well as the particular adjuster or TPA.
Are there Florida cases that discuss getting a copy of your written statement?
Yes. There are only two Florida cases that I know of that talk about this law. I discuss them below. They aren’t my cases.
Florida Court Won’t Punish Company for Not Giving Claimant Recorded Statement Transcript
Truman Malcolm Sontag sued Mobro Marine, Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida. Sontag claimed that Mobro Marine did not give a copy of a transcript of Sontag’s recorded statement. Mobro is a marine equipment company.
During the lawsuit, Mobro gave Sontag the recorded statement. The judge said that sanctions “would still not be appropriate because of Mobro’s compliance with Sontag’s requests.”
The United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division issued its ruling on February 17, 2011.
Court Didn’t Let Gas Station Use Statement When it Wasn’t Given to Injured Person
Faeges was an invitee at a gas station. He was injured as a result of a fall on the gas station’s premises.
The statement which he made prior to suing, and while he was confined to a hospital with his injuries, was given to an employee of the gas stations’ attorney.
When the statement was offered by an attorney for a co-defendant, and its admission denied, there was no showing that a copy was given to the injured person as required by §92.33, Fla. Stat.
The court said that “clearly, this statute makes inadmissible any statement by an injured person relating to his injuries or property damage growing out of an accident until it is shown that a copy of the statement made was furnished to the person making the same.”
The statement could not be used against the injured person because the gas station couldn’t show that the injured person received a copy of the statement when he made it.
This is an older case and I don’t know if, and what, language was changed since the statute first became law.
This case is Fendrick et al. v. Faeges, Fla.App. 1960, 117 So.2d 858. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (DCA) issued its ruling on October 1961.
Florida’s 3rd DCA handles appeals for Miami-Dade and Monroe County, Florida.
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