Following an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you will most likely pursue compensation from the negligent party’s insurance company. The company will ask for medical documentation, but they are not entitled to review your entire medical history. Insurance companies only have the right to view documentation relevant to injuries caused by your accident.
There is more to the issue than “rights” or “entitlement,” however. These companies do not want your medical history so they can better compensate you for your injuries. They have the opposite agenda and will use your history against you.
Protect yourself and any compensation you deserve by speaking with a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta before giving insurance companies any information.
Do Not Sign Medical Release Forms
It is common for insurance companies to send you a “medical release” form following your accident. If you sign the form, you give the company permission to access and review all of your medical records and your full medical history, not just those related to the accident.
Even if you are not bothered by the intrusion on your privacy, do not sign the form. The insurance company will use your medical history to deny compensation. Their request is a strategic move.
You might be wondering how your medical history could hurt your settlement. Insurance companies are creative in finding ways to keep their money and deny you payment, but some of the more common tricks include:
- Blaming the effects of your injury on a pre-existing condition, perhaps arguing your severe back pain is from a previous disc herniation and therefore not their responsibility to cover
- Suggesting your injuries were not actually caused by the accident at all but during another event. For example, they could claim a sprain you sustained after falling on a supermarket floor was actually a weeks-old injury you received medical attention for prior to the accident
- Using your history to compromise your case, perhaps using records about psychological treatment or counseling to imply your testimony is not trustworthy.
Can Insurance Companies Really Do All That?
If you sign that medical release form, they can. While these tricks are unfair, insurance companies are very experienced in using them against you. Do not give them any ammunition to hurt your case. Instead, guard your information and release nothing until you have spoken with an attorney.
Better yet, let your attorney handle all communication with these insurance companies. Atlanta personal injury lawyers are wise to these unethical tactics and will work to protect you from them throughout your case.
Information Insurance Companies Actually Need
You do need to provide insurance companies with some information to be compensated for your injuries. They are not out of line to require proof of your accident-related injuries, but that is the only information you need to offer. This essential information will likely include:
- Records for diagnosis of the accident-related injuries
- X-rays or other imaging showing the injury
- Documentation of the medical treatment you have received and, if applicable, will continue to require
Anything other than that is none of the insurance company’s business. To ensure you are not coerced into providing other medical history and to protect yourself from handing that information over inadvertently, have your personal injury attorney manage this medical document-sharing process.
Do Not Be Intimidated
You may feel confident in your abilities to deny an insurance company’s request for medical information they do not need. When you are in an injured, vulnerable state and desperately need compensation, your confidence may falter, or you just may not be as alert to the adjuster’s strategies as you think.
Adjusters know how to make their requests sound completely reasonable. You might feel comfortable providing the information they request only to realize your mistake later. They may also tell you you can only receive a settlement if you provide comprehensive medical information.
While you should secure a personal injury lawyer to serve as your voice, if you do speak with an adjuster, do not simply believe everything they say or furnish them with any information they demand. Instead:
- Ask why they want your medical records. Their request is an invasion of your privacy, and you have the right to demand an explanation for that request
- Refuse to give verbal permission or make any verbal agreements with the adjuster’s request. Your conversation is most likely being recorded.
- Tell them you will not sign any release forms or paperwork until you and your attorney have reviewed the actual documentation.
A Refusal May Hurt Your Claim
Insurance companies will try to convince you that your refusal to give them access to your medical history will hurt your claim. See that for what it is: a scare tactic. The insurance company is only entitled to relevant, accident-related medical information.
Your attorney will not deny the insurance company any information it has a legal right to and will ensure you operate within legal boundaries without sacrificing privacy or setting yourself up for unfair treatment.
If the insurance company continues to insist on more documentation, your personal injury attorney will represent your interests in court.
Say “No” to Independent Medical Examinations
If insurance companies doubt your claim and the medical documentation you provide, they may request you to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME) through which a so-called “independent” medical provider will conduct an exam to verify or refute the elements of your claim.
These medical examiners are far from independent and are usually paid by insurance companies time and again to offer diagnoses and opinions favorable to the insurance company. Do not comply with the request. If the insurance company is not happy with your refusal, refer them to your attorney.
Do Not Let Insurance Companies Steal Your Settlement
Despite appearances, insurance companies do not operate in an injury victim’s best interest. Their goal is to further their own profits. The less they pay victims like you, the more, the more profit they see, and they are willing to use your private medical information as a weapon against you.
Securing legal representation from a personal injury attorney in Atlanta is your best protection against these shameful insurance practices. Contact us today to safeguard your claim and get the settlement you justly deserve.