After you report your accident, and even before you file an accident claim, an insurance adjuster will call you. The insurance claims adjuster is paid to investigate your personal injury claim and gather evidence. And to determine if the insurance company will have to compensate you for your personal injuries and other financial losses suffered after the accident.
The insurance representative will most probably ask you for two things: (1) to give a written statement about the crash and (2) to sign a blank Medical Release form so that the insurance adjuster can review your medical reports and medical treatment records as part of an investigation into your personal injury claim. Your answer should be: No.
In this article, we'll explain why you should not release medical records to an insurance adjuster and what your rights are as an injury victim who has received a Medical Records Authorization form.
Many of these regulations rules apply to personal injury claims based on another person's or entity's negligence and tort law. So if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident on your own time, sustained physical injuries in an auto accident while working, or were hurt by a defective product, this article can help you safeguard legal your rights and maximize the financial compensation you recover.
At CCAL, our experienced personal injury lawyers have helped thousands of injury victims recover the compensation they deserve and we can help you as well. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact our Chicago personal injury law firm today at (312) 300-2515.
How to File Initial Insurance Claim and “Proof of Loss”
To receive long-term disability benefits, you must file an application. Most auto insurance providers have specific forms that you must file to start the claim process. It's crucial that you fill this insurance claim form out truthfully. Leaving some sections blank or providing incorrect information could give the insurance company the loophole it needs to deny your personal injury claim and say you committed “fraud”.
Your application should be supported by proof of your accident injuries and disability, which is also called “proof of loss”. This could include a statement from you about your injuries and disability and what can no longer do, or calendars and schedules showing days you have had to take time off work and why.
However, your application should also include evidence of your condition, such as test results and medical records. This evidence makes it difficult for the insurance provider to claim “it’s a pre-existing condition or it's all in your head.”
Should You Sign a Medical Release for the Insurance Adjuster?
Your insurance provider will almost always request access to all of your medical care records. The insurance company has a right to review all medical records related to your accident claim. That includes doctor’s office records, test results, notes from mental health professionals, and your prescription and medication history.
However, if the medical records they're requesting are entirely unrelated, you can refuse to sign the medical release form. For instance, medical records related to your child's birth might be irrelevant to a later Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. You and your accident lawyer can limit the medical records you provide to exclude unrelated medical treatments or medical records from the distant past.
Also, your insurer might ask you to agree to an “independent medical examination” by a medical professional of their choice. Your insurance policy might require you to attend an independent medical examination to receive your benefits. However, your personal injury lawyer and your doctors can work together to help you make the right decision in this situation.
Instead of asking you to provide your medical records directly, an insurance company representative may ask you to sign an authorization form to release your medical records. Review this form carefully. While it's given to you in the context of gaining access to your medical records, this authorization typically covers far more. The broadest forms give the insurance adjuster the right to get a wide range of financial, medical, and work-related documentation, and the right to talk to any person who knows you and your medical condition.
Signing that authorization form typically gives the insurance provider the right to snoop into every aspect of your life. The insurance policy might also require you to sign a release form to allow insurance adjusters to speak to your doctors. However, your long-term disability insurance attorney can help you limit the exposure of your personal information.
Why Would the Insurer Want Access to My Medical Records and Medical History?
Insurance providers don't make profits by paying large insurance settlement claims. Thus, insurance companies try to lower the compensation they must pay to injury victims to settle their personal injury claims. If they can't find a valid reason for denying your insurance claim, such as you were partially liable for the crash or liability for the accident claim is unclear, the insurance adjuster might try to find a reason to reduce the value of your accident claim.
Blaming pre-existing injuries or previous accidents is a common way insurers try to reduce the value of insurance claims. The insurance company will review your medical history searching for illnesses, injuries, or health conditions that might be related to the current bodily injury. The insurance company will then blame the current injury entirely or partially on the past medical condition to lower the value of your claim.
However, if you hire an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer, this tactic rarely works. There are case laws that support accident victims receiving full financial compensation for current injuries, even if a preexisting condition or injury may have worsened the injury you sustained in a car accident.
However, personal injury victims who don't seek legal representation before accepting a settlement offer might not know that they may recover full financial compensation.
Call Our Seasoned Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys Today for Legal Advice!
Before you sign any authorization or release forms for an insurance adjuster or agree to a settlement, talk with one of our experienced Chicago, IL, personal injury attorneys. Learn about your legal options and legal rights for recovering maximum compensation after an accident from a person who only has your best interests at heart. Contact our Chicago accident attorneys today at (312) 300-2515 for a free initial consultation.