If you have suffered a motor vehicle accident, an insurance adjuster has probably contacted you about your injuries. During this interaction, you may have been asked to sign an authorization releasing your medical records, giving the insurance adjuster the right to access your medical bills and records. However, you do not want to give the auto insurance company access to your medical records until you speak with a lawyer first.
By signing a blanket release, you give an insurance company access to all of your charts, notes, x-rays, etc. This access also includes information unrelated to the accident. Your medical records would presumably include any statements you (and potentially anyone who accompanied you for treatment) made to your health care providers in obtaining treatment.
These requests can seem invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving. How should you proceed? A car accident attorney can help you navigate this situation.
Can Insurance Companies Access My Medical Records Without My Permission?
No, your medical records are between you and your doctors. Thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 (Public Law 104-191), no one can access your health record without your consent. This is why the insurance company may ask you to sign a release form granting its adjusters access to this protected information.
Know that you do not have to authorize this access. There are other ways to give an insurance company the information they need to review your auto accident claim.
Why Insurance Companies Want Your Records
There are multiple reasons insurers request access to health records during the claims process.
To Verify That Your Injuries Are from the Accident
In general, insurance companies want to know which original injuries were presented to the health care provider for treatment and when. These details are critical, as they help determine what the insurer could be on the line to cover.
Part of any successful personal injury claim is proof of the claimant’s injuries and connection to the accident. This is why it is critical to seek treatment for your injuries as soon as possible after a collision – the longer you wait, the easier it may be for the insurer to question your claim’s validity.
To Understand Your Estimated Recovery Timeline
The insurance adjuster will also want to know what prognosis the health care provider made concerning your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This refers to when you have recovered as much as possible based on the injuries you suffered.
How long it will take you to recover and the types of treatment this will require affects your claim’s value – damage claims generally account for future medical care that victims will require to reach MMI. The more extensive your injuries, the greater settlement you could receive. As such, insurers often seek to limit the amount owed for these damages.
To Find Reasons to Deny or Undervalue Your Claim
An insurance adjuster will be looking for inconsistencies in your statements and any opportunity to argue that the accident did not cause the injuries you complain about. Moreover, when you give them access to your records, this authorization may not be limited to information related to the accident.
They may also receive access to other information that they could use to undermine your claim for damages. For example, they may suggest that you suffered these injuries prior to the collision based on certain information in your file.
To Contradict Your Doctor’s Medical Evaluation
Insurance companies may have their own timetables for different types of injuries. Chances are good that the insurer’s prognosis will differ from your doctor’s prognosis.
Insurance companies have health care experts working for them who will assess your records. In some cases, an insurance company may request that you visit one of their doctors for an evaluation—do not agree to any further evaluations with the insurance company doctor until you first speak with a lawyer.
How to Handle a Medical Records Request From an Insurer
If the insurance company is requesting authorization to access your medical records, politely decline to provide it until you can review the request. Next, you may want to speak with a lawyer at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine. Our lawyers will review any requests you receive from the insurance company, advise you appropriately, and can even take over communication with the insurer.
If an insurance company insists that it will close its file on your case unless you sign a release or see a doctor of its choosing, politely inform the insurer that you will review the request but will not provide authorization at the moment. Then, inform your lawyer of the insurance company’s request.
In some cases, insurers act in bad faith to trick claimants into providing unnecessary access to records, and our lawyers can hold the insurer responsible for those tactics.
A Car Accident Attorney Could Advocate for You With the Insurance Company
Instead of giving an auto insurance company direct access to your medical records, you could supply the necessary documents yourself. When you hire an attorney from our firm, we can help you request and compile the relevant documents and deliver them to the insurer for you while keeping the rest of your health information private.
As your representatives, our team will also:
- File the initial claim with the insurance company
- Answer any questions the insurance adjuster has about the case
- Negotiate for a settlement to cover your damages, including current and future medical bills
- Let you know when a lawsuit may be necessary
This is just a small sample of the services our firm offers clients throughout Florida. You can learn about other support we provide during a complimentary consultation.
Speak With Our Team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine
To speak with our team about your car accident, call 1-800-747-3733. We can discuss what an attorney from our team can do about the specific medical records challenges you face. Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today for a free consultation.
We Can Help.