Insurance statements- The “72 hour rule.”
You were in a bad car accident and haven’t hired an attorney yet. The insurance adjuster calls you and catches you off guard. They ask if they can ask you a few questions and tape record you. Not knowing any better, you agree. Several days later the insurance adjuster calls you back and indicates based on your recorded statement, they are going to deny your claim and refuse to pay you any money for your accident. Can the insurance company use that statement if there is a lawsuit?
The answer lies at Wisconsin Statute s. 904.12 and reads as follows:
“In actions for damages caused by personal injury, no statement made or writing signed by the injured person within 72 hours of the time the injury happened or accident occurred, shall be received in evidence unless such evidence would be admissible as a present sense impression, excited utterance or a statement of then existing mental, emotional or physical condition as described in s. 908.03 (1) (2) or (3).”
This statue prevents the insurance company from taking advantage of persons injured in accidents, who may be in severe pain or on pain medication, and getting them to admit many things about how the accident occurred or their injuries, while under stress. This 72 hour rule prohibits the use of such statements, even when taken with consent, to be used later as evidence in a courtroom. It basically falls under hearsay, which is objectionable evidence at a contested hearing or trial, unless it falls within a hearsay exception, such as indicated under the statute, present sense impression, excited utterance or a statement of then existing mental, emotional or physical condition.
We tell all of our injury clients, do NOT give a statement or say anything to the insurance company. They can and will use it against you later in a court of law. You do have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company if making an uninsured motorist (UM) claim, but you have no duty at all nor does the adverse insurance company have a right, to take a statement from you at all about the accident, let alone in the first 72 hours after your accident happened.
If you have questions about being in bad car accident and being injured, contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today. We have been helping individuals hurt in bad accidents in the greater Milwaukee area for over 35 years, and with my brother, over 40 years. Karp & Iancu, S.C. 414 453 0800