Crash victims have a lot of steps to take and hoops to jump through to get compensation for damages someone else caused. Remembering the critical “dos and don’ts” of an injury claim is challenging, especially if you rarely deal with the law. One critical request you should not agree to, regardless of where it comes from, is signing a medical release form.
At Jay Trucks, you can count on the experience and knowledge of our qualified auto accident lawyers in Grand Rapids. We have been helping injury victims like you for decades, recovering millions in compensation for our clients. We have an extensive and in-depth understanding of the law. We also are very familiar with tactics insurance companies use to get away with paying less for your damages.
Need help with your injury claim because a negligent driver hit your vehicle? Our firm gets results, and we are ready to help.
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What is a Medical Release?
Your medical records contain all of your protected health information (PHI), which includes details about:
- Doctor visits – including the reason you went
- Prior surgeries
- Medical conditions, such as arthritis
- Pre-existing injuries you sustained in other accidents or car crashes
- Medications you have taken
- Immunization (shot) records
- Diagnostic testing
- Other medical treatments you have received
- History of alcohol or other substance abuse
- Drug rehabilitation
- Mental health counseling
- And more
You can see why it is important to protect this sensitive and personal information. That is why your medical history is protected by federal law. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, no one can access your PHI without your written consent. This consent is called a medical release form.
Why is the Insurance Company Asking for My Medical Records?
The liable insurance company will tell you they need your medical records to help them determine the value of your claim. This is partly true, but that statement does not tell the whole story. Sure, they will look for billing codes related to the car crash to calculate the value of your medical damages. However, there are other reasons they want access to your medical records.
Verifying Your Claim
The liable insurance company will not pay you without first verifying your claim. They want to make sure their policyholder is responsible for the crash that directly caused your injuries and various damages. Insurers also need to confirm more about your injuries, such as their extent and severity.
Investigating the validity of a claim makes sense from both a business and legal standpoint.
Finding Ways to Remain Profitable
If the insurance company automatically paid top dollar on every claim, they would struggle to remain profitable. For this reason, they will do all they can to avoid paying you full compensation for your damages.
This is why the insurance company’s goals are never going to be the same as yours. As an injured victim, this is a serious problem, because you need to recover full and fair compensation for your damages. It is unreasonable for you to pay for damages caused by another driver’s negligence.
Seeking Records That Could Reduce the Value of Your Claim
The main reason the insurance company wants you to sign a medical release form, however, is to gain full access to all your medical records. This includes records that are not related to the crash. If you grant the insurance company this “carte blanche” access, they will look for records that could negatively impact your claim.
Unfortunately, injured victims may not realize they are granting this level of access if they sign a medical release form.
What Happens if You Sign a Medical Release Form
After signing a medical release form, the insurance company has the ability to:
- Pull any records from your medical history, including preexisting injuries and other records not related to your crash
- Look for records that could undermine your credibility or negatively impact your claim
- Try to find evidence, whether true or not, that could make it look like your injuries were caused previously or by something else
- Gain access to other private information, such as your employment records
- Search your personal medical history for any details they can use to deny or devalue your claim
It may be hard to believe an insurance company would go to such extremes, especially when they are so helpful and friendly on the phone. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters and agents are well-trained to get you to trust them. It helps them get what they need more easily. This is just one way insurers take advantage of injured victims who may not know all of their rights in this situation.
What You Should Do Instead
First of all, do not agree to sign this form or any document without first seeking legal help. No matter what the insurance company says, refusing to sign a medical release form will not hurt your claim. Signing it, however, does far more damage.
Instead, you should tell them you need to first discuss things with your attorney. Having an experienced lawyer manage your case could greatly benefit the outcome of your claim.
The attorneys at our firm are very familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to try to devalue a crash victim’s claim. Our legal team is prepared to speak with the insurance company on your behalf and protect your interests.
Will it Hurt My Claim if I Refuse Access to My Medical Records?
It will not hurt your claim if you refuse to sign a medical release form. If the insurance company tries to tell you otherwise, it is important to recognize that statement is absolutely not true.
What is true is that you will likely have to grant some access to your medical records (as opposed to all access). However, releasing medical records related to your crash can wait until you speak with an attorney.
Your attorney can review your medical records and determine which ones are relevant to your claim. Only those relevant records need to be released to the insurance company.
Need Help With an Injury Claim? Call Our Firm Today
When seeking compensation for injuries, either through your no-fault benefits claim or if you also need to file a third-party lawsuit, we recommend seeking legal help. Injury claims quickly become complicated and the victims are the ones who suffer.
Our firm is trusted, always seeks the maximum amount of compensation possible, and is ready to protect your interests throughout the legal process. Call our law offices anytime, night or day, to learn more. We are here to help.
Find out why our clients trust us! (989) 244-0440