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The Insurer-Insured Privilege - (A Reason to Talk to an Attorney Before You Talk to the Insurance Company)

Oftentimes when we get a call about a new case, the potential client has already given a recorded statement to the potential defendant's insurance company. Cooperating with an insurance company is a good way to settle the case before incurring the cost of litigation. However, talking to an insurance company before consulting with an attorney may put you at a disadvantage when negotiating with the insurance company later down the road.

What is The Insurer-Insured Privilege?

Whenever an insurance company may be liable for someone's injury, the company will typically take statements from their insured (the person who caused the injury), as well as, the injured person as soon after the accident as possible. When it is a liability insurer, they are already acting as an attorney for their insured. Missouri law recognizes a privilege not to disclose communications between an insurer and an insured.

What does this mean?

The privilege flows from the attorney client privilege, which means that communications between an insured and his insurer don't have to be disclosed if those statements are made in anticipation of litigation. Missouri courts have stated that the insured and injured person are in an adversarial relationship. Insurance companies act out of out of their duty to defend people they insure and are presumed to be collecting information for their soon-to-be-retained attorney. Therefore, any statements made by an insured to an insurer are privileged and protected from disclosure.

What does this mean for YOU?

This means that if you give a statement to the insurance company they will know both sides of the story, while you may be left in the dark as to anything said by the insured or employee of the insured.

For example, suppose you're in a car accident where the other driver is at fault, and he refuses to give a statement to the police. Later, when you make a claim against his insurance company, they will ask to record your statement and ask you a number of questions. You will not have a right to know what the other driver has to say until you file a lawsuit and take his deposition. This may be months or even years after the accident. Even then, you won't know what he told his insurance originally and the story may have changed or adapted based on what you told the insurance company.

None of this kills a case. This blog is only to illustrate how you can be at a disadvantage by cooperating with an insurance company before consulting a Kansas City personal injury attorney. The law recognizes that litigation is pending after an accident and so should you.

Contact us today to schedule a free, intial case evaluation!