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Understanding Evidence in an Automobile Accident Case Involving Alcohol

Drunk driving is a serious problem in our country. One accident could endanger the lives of others or cause debilitating personal injuries. However, there are many evidentiary and legal issues associated with proof collected in automobile accidents involving alcohol, even in cases where the alcohol was not a contributing factor in causing the accident.  People need to understand how evidence is rightfully and wrongfully used in potential DUI cases.

Hello, I’m Ted Corless with the Corless Barfield Trial Group. We’ve prepared a series of videos to educate people so that they can make informed decisions about hiring counsel.

Today’s video is about understanding your responsibilities under an insurance policy after you’ve made a claim.

If you have an opportunity to review your insurance policy, you’ll find a provision in there that’s referred to as your duties after loss. That means if you filed a fire claim or a water claim or a sinkhole claim, the insurance company can look to that provision and ask you to participate in their adjustment of the loss.

Now, if you look at the duties after loss, there’s something in there referred to as a recorded statement, But what I want to address now is referred to as an examination under oath.

Now this is a little more complicated than simply asking you questions with a recording device. Most of the time, what happens is the insurance will call my office and tell me they’ve received a letter from a law firm asking them to appear for what is referred to as an examination under oath.

Now this used to be, I’d say twenty-thirty years ago, the examination under oath was simply the insurance adjuster asking you questions in front of a court reporter who would take down the answers. But, about twenty years ago or so, insurance companies figured out this was an opportunity for them to ask you questions under oath that they could ultimately use to deny your claim.

And I’m not suggesting that insurance companies are always doing this, but many times the basis for denial is that a question was asked during an examination under oath that was ambiguous. And because of that, a lawsuit had to be filed to get the claim paid.

But what is an examination under oath really?

Well what you do is the insurance company’s lawyer sends you a letter and you appear and have a right, if you want, to have a lawyer present during questioning.

A court reporter will be there, will swear you in, and then will ask you a series of questions. Unfortunately, over time, insurance companies have started abusing by asking questions that are well-beyond the scope of an examination under oath.

Asking questions about past financial history, social relationships, and gaining information that they may very well use as a basis to deny or limit your claim. Examinations under oath are not depositions, you know, that’s where lawyers are present and questions are asked, objections are raised. No.

An examination under oath can be an opportunity for an insurance company to sit down with you and interrogate you, without the benefit of counsel. I’ve had the opportunity to get involved many times in examinations under oath where they literally took two, three, and four days of questioning, which seems completely out of hand for a simple loss associated with someone’s home.

If you’ve been asked to participate in an examination under oath, it is imperative that you appear, but that you appear with counsel.

If you have questions about your responsibilities after you’ve made an insurance claim, be it a recorded statement, and examination under oath, or any unusual request being made by your insurance company, go to our website at http://www.CorlessBarfield.com or give us a call. You take care of your family, we’ll take care of the insurance company.