Do I Have To Give A Statement To My Insurance Company After an Accident?
In Texas, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company after an accident. Your duty to cooperate includes responding to the insurance company’s request for information about the accident. However, take note that cooperating with the other driver's carrier is different.
Your duty to cooperate is a legal obligation that can be express or implied. A duty to cooperate with your insurance company is “express” when it is a written term of your insurance contract. It is “implied” (by Courts interpreting insurance contracts) when your cooperation would be necessary for the insurance company to perform and its duties under the contract.
Failing to cooperate with your insurance company in defense of a claim under your policy bears certain consequences that can be detrimental to you—and the injured third parties. However, you should not give a statement about the car accident, your injuries, or any other matter relating to the accident until you have discussed it with an experienced Texas car accident attorney.
If you or a loved one has been in an 18-wheeler or car accident, you can call the Morgan Legal Group 24-hours a day at (713) 969-5026 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with an experienced Texas car accident attorney. The Morgan Legal Group represents clients throughout Texas.
What is an Express Duty to Cooperate Insurance Policy Clause?
An express Duty to Cooperate Insurance Policy Clause is a written term of your insurance contract. A written, contractual duty to cooperate clause might read something like this:
“You and any other insured must … cooperate with us in the investigation or settlement of the claim or defense against the suit …”
Alone, this clause doesn’t seem unreasonable. Of course, you would cooperate; why wouldn’t you?
However, you must remember that insurance companies’ business is denying claims and retaining the premium payments of their insured. This business model depends upon insurers’ denials standing up in court when contested by their own customers and the Texas personal injury attorneys representing them.
The express duty to cooperate provision guarantees that the insurance company will have the information it needs to present an aggressive defense in courtroom disputes. Further, the express duty to cooperate allows the insurance company to prepare its defense and proceed with what is known as a “subrogation claim” against any third parties involved in the underlying incident.
What is an Implied Duty to Cooperate With an Insurance Company?
Even where a duty to cooperate is not expressly included in an insurance contract, Texas courts will read it in where the contract requires the insurer to act in good faith in response to a loss claim of an insured party.
Courts see it in Texas as a duty ancillary to that owed by the insurer to the insured. Indeed, courts find the duty to cooperate necessary to the insurance company’s contractual duties.
Generally speaking, the implied duty to cooperate with insurance companies means that you must not hinder, prevent, or interfere with the insurance company’s ability to perform its duties. It requires that the insured be truthful with the insurance company about his or her damages, as well as about the circumstances of whatever accident inspired the claim.
What Are The Consequences of Failing to Cooperate With My Insurance Company?
In the most egregious cases, the consequence of failing to cooperate is that you will be denied all coverage under the policy. This can leave you exposed to serious medical bills and other liabilities.
That said, the burden is on the insurance company to demonstrate that it was prejudiced in its ability to raise a valid defense by the insured’s lack of cooperation.
How much prejudice is required to be demonstrated?
Courts in Texas have moved up and down the spectrum on this question, from a non-substantial degree of “actual” prejudice being necessary all the way up to “material” prejudice. (This means that the insured’s lack of cooperation sank the case for the insurance company.)
Consult An Experienced Texas Car Accident Attorney
The bottom line with regard to the duty to cooperate with insurance companies is that it is a duty that must be navigated carefully.
Ignoring the requests of your insurance company after a claim is filed will not benefit your cause. On the other hand, there are limits to what does and does not constitute “cooperation.”
Discussing your claim with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney will ensure that you maximize your odds of success. It ensures that avoidable pitfalls such as the duty to cooperate are navigated carefully—and to your tactical advantage.
The Morgan Legal Group represents car accident clients all across Texas and does not charge a fee unless you get money for your claim.
If you hire the Morgan Legal Group to represent you, an experienced Texas car accident attorney will deal with the insurance companies and their adjusters on your behalf. The Morgan Legal Group represents clients throughout Texas and will fight to ensure you get the justice you deserve. You can schedule a free no-obligation consultation with an attorney 24-hours a day by calling (713) 969-5026.