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Moore: Whatever Happened to Recorded Statements?

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Not too long ago, workers' comp recorded statements appeared in every file where the injured worker received any type of weekly comp benefits, such as a mailed check. 

James Moore

James Moore

Some of the requirements were: 

  • A recorded statement of the injured employee within 24 hours (even weekends) of receiving the first report of injury, unless he was represented by an attorney. I even took them with the attorney on the phone or in person.
  • Preferably in person if you were a local on-the-road adjuster.
  • A recorded or written statement by any witnesses of the accident as soon as possible (72 hours maximum).
  • The adjuster used a guide provided by the third-party administrator or insurance carrier. I still have a flip-book guide somewhere. I took statements for any type of claim, not just workers' comp. 
  • Do not make it confrontational or accusatory.
  • A more involved statement if there was any subrogation potential such as an auto accident.
  • Not for medical-only claims in most cases.

Written statements were also allowed but usually ended up being so time-consuming.  When the accident occurred in another state, you could assign an outside firm’s adjuster to take the statement for you if an in-person statement was required. In-person statements turned out to be much better than over the phone.  

Workers' comp recorded statements faded quickly in the 1990s, as did most other lines of insurance. The last time I remember recorded statements being taken was when I consulted for a health and workers' comp insurer. The statements, though, were too accusatory; a written guide and standards were needed at the time. This was 1996 — yes, 24 years ago. 

Some forward-thinking employers and governmental organizations heavily investigate any type of accident or insurance claim. I have seen a few written statements taken by these groups.   

Now that I consult on files, I never see recorded statements taken by the adjusters. Yes, the good adjusters still verify the accident with the employer, employee and medical treatment facility. Their three-point contact is performed ASAP. After all, a claim is basically over in 48 hours

Legality of recorded statements

Many times, when I bring this up at conferences or a presentation with claims or risk management department personnel, some of them have responded that recorded statements are frowned upon or illegal in their respective adjusting states.   

I usually respond back, "Then why is a guide for taking written or recorded statements still in your claims adjusting manual provided to adjusters the first day on the job?"

If any carriers or TPAs are still taking workers' comp recorded statements, please let me know in the comments section or let me know at the contact us page.

This blog post is provided by James Moore, AIC, MBA, ChFC, ARM, and is republished with permission from J&L Risk Management Consultants. Visit the full website at www.cutcompcosts.com.

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Dean Clifton Sep 23, 2020 a 9:09 am PDT

We used to have to take face to face recorded statements on each lost time claim...you really got a lot of information that way.

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