This is a Guest Post provided for additional information to help our patients, from Melissa Winthers of Fleishman & Shapiro P.C.
Recorded Statements/Solicitation of Settlements by Insurance Companies: Rules of the Road
We all know that after a trauma such as a car crash, each and every injury is not always immediately apparent. A patient who has multiple injuries, for example, might feel overwhelming pain from one injury that overshadows other problems. Until the overpowering pain subsides, the patient may be unaware of other injuries.
Another example is a patient with a brain injury who does not go back to work for some time. It is often not until the patient resumes normal activities that the patient realizes the cognitive difficulties he/she is having. People who have been recently injured are also sometimes unable to clearly articulate the circumstances of a crash, because they are foggy from pain medications or the effects of the injuries themselves.
It is for these very reasons that insurance companies are prohibited from taking unfair advantage of people in the period immediately following an injury causing accident. Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-301 entitled Settlements, releases, and statements of injured persons prohibits anyone whose interest is adverse to the insured person from negotiating or attempting to negotiate a settlement with the injured patient within 30 days of the incident. Any settlement entered into or any general release of liability given by the injured patient within this time period is void.
The statute further prohibits insurance companies form obtaining or attempting to obtain any statement, written, oral, recorded, or otherwise, from the injured patient for use in negotiating a settlement or obtaining a release within 15 days of the injury causing event. Any statement which is given by the injured patient in violation of this statue may not be used in evidence against the interest of the injured party in any civil action relating to the injury.
It is important for consumers to be aware of their rights when they have been hurt through no fault of their own to ensure they are not taken advantage of during a time of vulnerability.