Recorded Statements: Sometimes You Have Nothing to Lose
In North Carolina, only one party to a conversation has to know that the conversation is being recorded. Therefore, the person recording the conversation doesn’t have to tell the other person that the conversation is being taped. This rule is quite different from other states that require notifying the other person that you are recording your conversation with them.
We have all had telephone conversations that began with someone telling us that “this conversation may be recorded for quality control purposes.” This catch all phrase is all that must be said before recording a conversation without your verbal permission. If it happens to be a bill collector or aggressive telemarketer, let them know that you are recording the conversation too. The first thing they will tell you is that they do not give you permission to recorded it. If you tell them you don’t need their permission in North Carolina then they will quickly hang up on you. Telling a bill collector that you are recording the conversation may actually get them off the phone quicker than if you paid the bill they were calling about!
When someone is involved in an auto collision, the insurance company will almost always take a recorded statement from you. It will usually happen before you have an attorney and will be sold to you as something that has to be done so they can accept responsibility. I would like to think that insurance companies are generally trying to find out the truth about what happened. As a North Carolina injury attorney, I know better. Anything that may be slightly construed as a reason to deny liability will result in just that, a denied claim.
With my injured clients, the first thing I want to know is if they have given a recorded statement. If they have, I want a copy of it. If they haven’t given a statement then I let the adjuster know I won’t be authorizing one anytime soon. When do I change my mind? Rarely. However, the one exception to the rule is when liability has already been denied. If liability has been denied then it can’t make things worse. Sometimes giving a good recorded statement will change the adjusters mind without having a jury do it for them.
If injured by another driver, by a negligent physician, or on the property of someone else, never give a recorded statement without first consulting with an attorney. If being harassed by someone on the phone, let them know you plan on recording the conversation. It is amazing how these simple rules can change the outcome and the tone of a conversation in your favor.