What Is an Examination Under Oath (EUO)?
If you have an insurance claim that is in dispute, then you may be asked to participate in an Examination Under Oath (EUO). The EUO is a formal process used by insurance companies at times in order to gather more information about a claim, to prevent fraud, to allow the insured party to testify and to prove their loss if there is missing or destroyed evidence.
During an EUO, you will be sworn under oath, and spend possibly several hours answering questions posed by the insurance company’s attorney. The questions may include any question that the insurance company’s attorney considers relevant, although it may not seem to you to be relevant.
Most insurance policies give the insurance company the right to request an EUO at any point before the claim is processed, and the policy should detail any restrictions on the EUO. Insurance companies are also entitled to schedule as many EUOs as they need to complete their investigation, although they rarely do more than one.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer and How They Can Help
The best time to contact a personal injury lawyer is as soon as you receive a written request to attend an Examination Under Oath, but if you suspect that your insurance company will pursue an EUO before having received official notice, you can contact a lawyer at that time.
An experienced accident attorney will be able to help you prepare for your EUO and take steps to make your insurance claim successful. Your injury attorney can also advise you if the insurance company uses the EUO as a means of getting you to drop your claim or pursuing charges of insurance fraud against you.
Some of the things your personal attorney can help with in relation to the EUO include:
- Explaining the process, what it means to testify under oath, and possible consequences of the EUO
- Gathering the documents requested by the insurance company for the EUO and making sure they are in order
- Preparing for the questions you may be asked
- Being at your side during the EUO and debriefing afterwards (the lawyer of the insured party does not participate in the EUO)
Reasons Why Insurance Companies Do EUOs
There are a number of reasons why insurance companies request EUOs, and the reason may not be clear to you when you receive the EUO summons. Sometimes the EUO is a tool that is used as part of a claim investigation, to prevent fraud, to find misrepresentations, or to use as evidence in a future lawsuit.
EUOs are costly for insurance companies, so you should be aware that it is not a casual step taken by an insurance company as part of paying an insurance claim. If they have requested an EUO, it may be part of a broader plan to deny your claim while papering their trail. EUOs can be used as a tool of intimidation, as they can involve several hours of questioning about things that do not appear relevant to the claim or the insured property or person.
Tips About EUOs
The most important advice we can give about EUOs is to talk to a lawyer. An attorney can help prepare you and give you the confidence and assurance you need to keep your cool during an EUO.
Here are a few more things you should know about EUOs:
- If you do not go to the EUO, the insurer can deny your claim. The insurer does not have to show that your failure to provide sworn testimony prejudiced (harmed) the company’s interests. But sometimes an insurance company requests an EUO when it is not their right, because it is not provided for in the insurance policy. Make sure you talk to your lawyer about your policy.
- Although your claim can be automatically denied if you do not attend the EUO, there are some defenses that may be claimed for not attending. These include problems with how notice was given, timing of the appointment, and not being allowed to have an attorney present.
- You cannot plead the 5th Amendment and decline to respond to the questions, because an insurance policy is a voluntary contract. If you decline to respond, the insurance company can decline coverage.
- Your attorney cannot participate in the EUO. It’s not like in a deposition, where your attorney could object to improper or irrelevant questions or ask questions themselves. The attorney’s work for you is in the preparation and the strategizing afterwards.
- If you work for an insured company that has been issued an EUO, you and/or other employees with specialized knowledge of the business may be called in separately for an EUO.
- The people who may be present at your EUO include you (the insured), your attorney and/or public adjuster, a court reporter and a notary. If there is no court reporter present, you could be sworn in by the notary.
Call Our Long Island Accident Lawyers Today For a Free, No-Risk Consultation
Insurance companies sometimes show good faith in investigating and paying a claim, but sometimes an EUO is used more as a tool to deny claims, to make the process more difficult, and/or document testimony that can be used to impeach you in case you file a lawsuit against them.
If your insurance company has requested that you do an EUO, contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP right away for a free consultation. You will want a zealous advocate by your side as you pursue your claim and go through the EUO. We have been dealing with insurance companies for years and will help you fight for the compensation that you deserve. We serve the communities of Long Island, New York.