One of the first things that a hotel or hospital that faces claims from someone who got legionella on their premises will want to do is get a recorded statement from the victim. They might also want statements from the victim’s family members.
Certainly any company or organization that is being accused of exposing people to legionella bacteria or Legionnaires’ disease will want to investigate the matter. And getting a recorded statement is part of that investigation process. What else happens in the investigation following a legionnaire’s disease exposure?
The initial investigation
Information such as exposure times, travel movements, and medical history are all part of the company’s investigation protocol. The problem with providing a statement is that the information provided is not only being used as part of the company’s investigation to correct the legionnaires exposure problem.
Should the victim agree to give a recorded statement?
Generally they should not, at least not without talking to a lawyer first. Any recorded statement that’s given will probably be later used against the victim. It’s very hard for most people to appreciate how this happens, but lawyers know. And that’s why you should at least consult with a lawyer before giving a written or recorded statement.
How much should the victim cooperate with the investigation?
Certainly one does not want to impede a Legionnaires’ investigation done by local or state health agencies. So, if those entities are seeking to interview injured person or their family, then they should cooperate —but with the assistance of an attorney.
On the other hand when the questioning is being sought by an insurance company or by a professional claims adjuster, then the statement is no longer an investigative effort, but is now being done in anticipation of a lawsuit and probable litigation. Then you should talk to an attorney before speaking at all.
Statements can be used as evidence during litigation
If a statement is provided then it will likely be used in the discovery phase of the legionnaires case, and in the deposition of the injured person. Most jurisdictions allow for the production of the statement by a party that has given it even before a lawsuit is filed.
Also note that there is nothing that prohibits the injured party’s attorney from getting statements and recording interviews from knowledgeable persons. However, the attorney or the injured party should not do these interviews. Using a professional investigator will avoid a possible contamination of the information, and other problems. And it also avoids a scenario where the attorney winds up having to be a witness in the case.
Consult your attorney before providing recorded statements
Therefore if a statement is given seek a complete copy of the recording, and the company’s transcription of it as well. If the statement is being requested make sure that your attorney weighs the benefits of providing a statement before doing so, and the attorney should always participate in the process.