How to Deal With Insurance Companies
April 20, 2021
It is important that you understand that if you were involved in an accident in a Missouri DUI / DWI case, that you consider not speaking with your insurance carrier prior to first retaining an attorney for advice.
This is because it may be very difficult for the State to prove you were operating your vehicle if yours was a single-car accident without any witnesses unless you make admissions that you should not have otherwise made to driving. Your insurance carrier will also use these types of admissions against you as a pretext to raise your rates.
In Missouri DUI / DWI cases involving an accident, you must be careful what you say or it will be used against you—both in court and by your insurance carrier. You have a Constitutional right to remain silent.
Whenever our office is retained in this type of Missouri DUI / DWI case, none of our clients in such circumstances will make a statement to the insurance adjuster -- unless the act of driving is not an issue, but under no circumstances will such a statement ever be recorded by the carrier, though I sometimes will record it, and under no circumstances will any of the discussion ever involve drinking facts.
If the carrier MUST have some kind of statement in a situation where driving is an issue, then they need to provide the client a lawyer for any civil actions which may be brought against him or based on the accident so that the communications become privileged. Occasionally, I will have an adjuster begin to threaten that the client must "cooperate" or there will be no coverage.
I politely remind them that the insurance carrier also has a fiduciary duty to not do anything that might harm the client, which providing a statement in this context might do. I have yet to ever see a carrier actually decline coverage or assert a policy defense in these situations -- though I hesitate to say that it has never happened.
In accident cases where it is clear that the client was driving, I will usually tell these insurance adjusters that we clearly will not provide a statement, because there is no factual basis to contest driving, so the interview will serve no purpose other than to hurt the client. This is technically probably an “admission,” but realistically, it usually solves these types of problems without creating new ones.
If you are involved in a Missouri DUI / DWI accident, particularly where you or others have suffered injuries, it is imperative that you contact qualified counsel prior to speaking with an insurance carrier