If you're injured in an accident, such as a car crash or slip and fall, you'll need to file a claim for compensation with the negligent party’s insurance company. There are many decisions to make before your claim is settled.
The insurance adjuster might make requests that initially seem reasonable, but agreeing to them could significantly damage your claim.
One such action is an adjuster asking you to sign a medical authorization form allowing for the release of your medical records to the insurance company.
What Is a Medical Release?
This is a document that authorizes an insurance company to obtain medical records directly from your health care providers. The problem with the medical authorizations used in personal injury cases is they're usually blanket waivers that allow insurance companies to access all of your medical records—not just the ones related to your case.
Why Is Signing a Medical Release a Bad Idea?
When asking you to sign a medical authorization, an insurance adjuster may state that your medical records are necessary to verify your injuries before settling a claim. While it's true that he or she needs medical information and bills pertaining to your accident, it's never in your best interest to give the carrier unlimited access to your medical history.
- You're providing ammunition to dispute your claim. The insurance adjuster wants your medical records to look for information to deny or reduce your claim. This could include obtaining medical records about prior accidents or pre-existing injuries. He could use this information to argue that your injuries were caused by a previous incident or injury and not your accident. You don't have to agree to allow an invasion of your privacy to settle a personal injury claim.
- Your medical records may be incomplete. If you sign a medical release soon after your accident, you and your attending physician won't know how serious your injuries are, the full treatment plan, and your final prognosis. Wait to provide medical information about the incident and to settle your claim until you know the full extent of your injuries and potential recovery.
- You may weaken your claim. When you give the insurance company blanket authorization to search through your medical history, you increase the likelihood that there will be disputes about your right to compensation. This can make it take longer to settle. Depending on the dispute, you may need to compromise and accept less than you deserve.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
If the insurance adjuster contacts you and requests that you sign a medical release, wait. You shouldn't sign this or any other release—or settle your claim—without first consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer. You could be waiving important legal rights and making mistakes that weaken your case.
Once you hire your attorney, he'll take over communications with the insurance carrier. He'll also collect vital evidence to prove liability for the personal injury, and provide the company with only the medical records and billing that apply to your case. Your personal injury attorney can accurately value your claim based on his experience settling other cases similar to yours, and negotiate a settlement that allows for a proper physical and financial recovery.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to dog bites, slip and fall accidents, or vehicle collisions in San Diego or southern California, attorney Mark Blane is ready to help. Order his free book, The 10 Secrets About Your Injury Case Before You Call a Lawyer, to start learning about your legal options.
Then, call his office to schedule your free consultation. This allows you to understand more about your rights and how Mark's expertise in representing personal injury cases can help you obtain the highest possible settlement.