If you have been injured in a car accident, the insurance company of the negligent party may ask you to sign a medical authorization release form to get access to your medical records. You need to decide if permitting the insurance company to have direct access to your medical documents is in your best interests. Prior to making that decision, there are several factors you need to take into consideration.
The negligent party’s insurance company is responsible for providing compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. When determining the value of a personal injury case, the insurance adjuster has to evaluate the severity of your injuries and the cost of the medical treatment you need. Being able to review your medical records enables the adjuster to verify your injuries and the medical treatment you’re receiving.
Past Medical History
If you sign a medical authorization release, the insurance company is able to access the the medical records related to the injuries sustained in the car accident. They could also find out about your full medical history. If you were previously hurt or have pre-existing injuries, the insurance company could use that information to dispute the validity and value of your insurance claim.
For example, if you had neck pain as a result of the auto accident, the insurance adjuster could argue that the injury wasn’t directly caused by the accident if your medical records show that you had a pre-existing neck injury.
Requests for Medical Records
You have the option to send copies of your medical records to the insurance company instead of signing a medical authorization release. You or your personal injury attorney can review the medical documents prior to sending them to the insurance company to ensure they only receive information that is relevant to the car accident. This allows you to have control over the type of medical information the adjuster gets.
When the adjuster asks for specific medical records, you can decide if the request is reasonable. Sometimes the adjuster may attempt to find out information that could potentially hurt your claim. If the adjuster isn’t able to explain why certain medical records are relevant to the case, you could politely decline to provide them.
Doctor’s Medical Report
Sometimes the doctor’s notes leave out information that is pertinent to your insurance claim. For instance, the doctor may not clearly explain how the impact from the car accident contributed to your injuries. The doctor may also omit details regarding your prognosis, the full extent of your symptoms or the long-term effects of your injuries. When this information isn’t included in the medical documents, the adjuster could allege that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claimed.
Carefully review the doctor’s notes in your medical records. If the doctor has left out important information regarding your injuries, symptoms, or treatment, ask him to write a report that includes those details and submit it to the adjuster. The results from the lab tests and medical procedures along with the doctor’s notes help to substantiate your injury claim.
Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)
If the insurance adjuster continues to dispute the severity of your injuries or the long-term effects of the injuries, he may ask you to undergo an independent medical examination. Even though the medical examination is classified as being independent, the doctor performing the exam is chosen and paid by the insurance company.
The physician conducting the IME may have reviewed your medical records, but he won’t have as much knowledge about your injuries and how they have impacted your life as the primary physician who has been treating you. Speak with your personal injury attorney about the best course of action to take. Your attorney can help you decide if complying with the adjuster’s request for an independent medical examination will more likely benefit or hurt your claim.
Consult a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Prior to signing any medical authorization or release forms, contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. It’s important to understand your rights when you have been injured in an auto accident. Having a legal advocate fighting on your behalf is crucial if you want to get the compensation and benefits you are entitled to receive.