When it comes to proving fault in a personal injury claim, the more tangible evidence you can collect, the better. Photographs and videos of the scene of an accident like after a car crash are useful. But what about audio evidence in the form of conversations between the two involved parties and/or an insurance company? Are you allowed to record any conversation you want in Texas without breaking the law?
Texas is a “one-party consent to recording” state, which means only one party within a conversation has to consent to recording it. In other words, you can decide to record your own “wire, oral, or electronic” conversations with another party without telling them directly and without breaking the law – in most situations. There are some exceptions and sidenotes you should know.
Before recording a conversation, remember:
- Notifying the other party is optional: You do not need to tell the other party that you are recording the conversation, but you might want to notify if they are willing to go on the record.
- Recordings cannot be used for crimes: You cannot record a private conversation with the intent of using that recording to conduct an unlawful act or criminal violation. For example, you cannot record a call to use as blackmail later. You probably do not need to worry about this rule, but it is worth knowing, anyway.
- Interstate and international recordings: The Texas law about recording a conversation without the other party’s knowledge or consent only applies in Texas. If you are placing a phone call or chatting electronically with a party in another state or country, then you might not have the right to freely record that conversation. The permission will depend on whether or not the other party’s state and country also has a “one-party consent to recording” rule. When speaking across state lines, it is the right choice to inform the other party at the start of a conversation that you would like to record it before continuing unless you specifically know the law in that state, country, and/or jurisdiction.
- Contracts can further restrict recordings: Some employers, facilities, and contractual agreements may place further restrictions on recording conversations that provide legal remedies when a party records a conversation without consent. When you are going to speak with a party with which you share a contractual agreement of some sort – i.e., an employment contract, etc. – you should review that contract first to see if you are disallowed from recording private conversations.
- You might be recorded without your knowledge: All of the rules regarding the unannounced recording of a conversation in Texas that you can use can also be used by the other party. Keep in mind when speaking with an insurance company or the opposing party after an accident that they might be recording you, too.
Talk to an Attorney to Be Safe
When in doubt about whether recording conversations is allowed or unlawful, contacting a lawyer is always a prudent option. If you already have a personal injury lawyer helping you with a personal injury claim, then you can ask them about what conversations you should and should not record. Or you can also ask if they will allow you to redirect all inquiries about your accident to them for initial review before you respond.
If you live in San Antonio, make Maloney Law Group, P.L.L.C. your first choice of legal representation and assistance for personal injury claims of all sorts. We know the ins and outs of the law, including rules about recording conversations and using those recordings as evidence of liability later. You can contact us online to begin.