When you sustain injuries in a car accident, you’ll likely get medical treatment at a hospital or other medical facility. When you get treatment, everything is documented in medical records.
These records are often the key to your collision claim, and insurance companies know this. Therefore, you should refrain from Voluntarily releasing your medical records to any insurer without discussing it with your Cleveland personal injury lawyer.
Personal injury cases revolve around physical and mental injuries. That’s why medical records that show these injuries are critical and can truly make or break a case.
Therefore, after sustaining injuries, do not wait to seek medical attention. This is true even if you do not necessarily feel or see any injuries, as some injuries take time to develop and begin showing symptoms after a traumatic event.
Everything is documented in your medical records from the moment you begin receiving medical aid. Taking your medical care seriously can communicate to insurance companies that you are, in fact, injured and that you need treatment to work toward your recovery.
Failing to get medical attention in a timely manner or quitting before you’ve completed your treatment can negatively affect your insurance claim and hinder your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
When you file a collision claim, you’ll need to deal with the insurance company until your claim is resolved. Insurance companies are known to employ various tactics to avoid paying you what your claim is truly worth.
Among the requests insurers may make of you is the request to sign a medical release. Do not do this without consulting an attorney. This would allow the company to contact your medical providers and obtain your accident-related medical records.
Insurance companies perform their own investigations. As they’re investigating your accident, it is not uncommon for them to want your medical records to examine the extent of your injuries.
As mentioned, the insurance company wants your accident-related medical records. When you sign a medical release, you are not giving the company access to all of your medical records for your entire life.
Therefore, when you agree to give the insurance company your medical records and sign a release, the company may obtain any of the following records:
- Reports from any urgent care or hospital emergency room you visited
- Reports and doctor’s notes from your primary physician
- Diagnostic tests and imaging reports, like X-rays and MRIs
- A list of medications prescribed to you for your injuries
- Treatment recommendations from your treating physician
- Surgical reports
- Therapy and rehabilitation reports
- Hospital discharge paperwork
Insurance companies want access to any medical record or documentation that could be tied to your accident.
While signing a medical release for the insurance company to obtain your medical records might seem harmless and routine, the insurer usually has ulterior motives.
When the insurance company gets ahold of your medical records, it will dissect them and do anything necessary to use the records against you. Insurers are known to use medical records to:
- Blame your injuries on a pre-existing condition
- Downplay the severity of your injuries
- Shift the blame to another party or cause
- Claim you are not as injured as you’ve stated
Along these same lines, insurance companies also typically ask for recorded statements after an accident to get your side of the story. They then try to use your own words against you to limit their liability.
You cannot trust insurance companies with records or statements of any sort.
Most do not realize that, when the insurance company requests and receives your medical records, they are incomplete. Therefore, your medical records may not accurately reflect the severity of your injuries.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be able to pursue certain damages, including lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and future medical expenses. When your medical records are incomplete, you do not know how your injuries will affect your future and quality of life.
The insurance company will make a judgment based only on the information presented when it obtains your records, which could harm your chances of full and fair financial recovery.
Simply put, your medical records should be kept private. This is why certain laws exist to help protect sensitive information such as health details — they are not for everyone to know.
You should not feel like you need to give the insurance company access to your medical records in order to pursue the compensation you need and deserve.
In some cases, insurance companies may request their own medical examinations, called “independent medical examinations” (IMEs).
These medical examinations should be performed by independent and unbiased physicians; however, the doctor is not entirely independent. The insurance company gets to pick a doctor of their choosing, which could backfire for you.
Note that IMEs are not a requirement. If the insurance company requests an IME, do not agree to anything without discussing it with your Columbus personal injury lawyer.
Insurance companies are sneaky and should never be trusted blindly. If you represent yourself in your collision claim, the insurance company will likely prey on you as it realizes you do not know how it operates. Therefore, it’s crucial to have the support of a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney.
Slater & Zurz has been protecting injured clients from insurance companies for over 32 years. We’re onto insurers and know how they work. Because we’re always one step ahead, they know they can’t mess with our clients.
Contact Slater & Zurz today to request a complimentary consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer.