Should I Release My Medical Records to an Insurance Company?
You were hurt in a vehicle accident and have been contacted by the insurance adjuster, asking for your medical records. You need to be reimbursed for your hospital and treatment bills, and it seems reasonable to release these so your claim can move forward. After all, without medical records to corroborate your accident-related injuries, your claim will likely be denied.
Should you sign a release, granting authorization to the insurance company? Not without speaking to a trusted attorney first. So how do you handle this request without raising red flags?
Our advice: tell the insurance company you need to review the written request before granting the release. This provides an opportunity to seek legal advice from the New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas & London.
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We know the drill and can help you gain a clearer picture of your legal rights and obligations in this particular scenario. Don’t be intimidated by pushy adjusters who say they could “close your claim.” What they are really doing is trying to get access to your entire medical history, not just the records concerning your recent car accident injuries. Insurance companies have their own team of medical experts who will be on the hunt for inconsistencies or pre-existing medical conditions that could undermine the value of your claim.
Medical release forms must be carefully worded
While insurance companies do have a right to see specific records to confirm your injuries, they are not entitled to snoop around your entire medical history. This only gives them a chance to look for something that can be twisted or used to diminish the validity of your claim.
Protect your interests by having an attorney review the medical release form first. Many times, these documents are “blanket releases,” worded in such a manner as to give unlimited access to all medical records. In the same vein, it can be just as damaging to give the insurance company verbal permission to obtain your records. The adjustors should only have access to charts, tests, and doctors’ notes directly related to your injuries.
One of the easiest ways to handle the matter is to have your lawyer review the request, and the actual records that will be sent to the insurance company. Your personal injury attorney will ensure that only the relevant health records are shared, and nothing more.
Only records directly relating to your injuries
When you are awaiting a settlement for your accident injuries and damages, you need to be careful and have an advocate in your corner. If the adjustor’s requests are invasive and unreasonable, this can be used to your advantage if the case goes to trial. You do not have to share any information about pre-existing conditions, or an injury that is unrelated to your claim, and there is nothing wrong with saying “no” and being firm yet polite. Your legal counsel can handle all communications with the adjustors, relieving you of this burden.
Independent medical examination
In claims where the insurance company disagrees with your doctor’s prognosis regarding long-term impacts or disabilities, they may ask you to see a doctor of their choice for a second opinion. This physician is on the insurance company’s payroll and is referred dozens of patients in order to conduct “independent medical examinations” or IMEs. Not surprisingly, these physicians routinely make examinations and reports that are favorable to the insurer. In other words, they often disagree with your original prognosis and find your injuries to be much less serious or costly to treat.
You are not legally obligated to submit to an independent medical examination if requested by a third party’s insurance company. The one exception is if the claim is being paid under your own policy. In either case, it’s best to ask your attorney before agreeing to anything.
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The law firm of Douglas & London launched in 2002 with the goal of helping injured clients achieve the justice and compensation they deserve. Over the past 18 years, our talented attorneys have helped injured motorists obtain millions of dollars in reparations, and can help you navigate the confusing claims process after a collision.
Speak to our experienced New York City personal injury lawyers today. The consultation is free and without obligation to proceed. Call our toll free number or reach out using our online form.