If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you should release your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company. The answer is not so simple. Depending on the situation, releasing your medical records could either help or hurt your claim. In this article, I will explain everything you need to know about medical records and car accident claims, including:
- What are medical records and why are they important for your claim?
- What are the risks and benefits of releasing your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company?
- How to protect your privacy and avoid giving too much information to the insurance company?
- How to obtain and review your medical records before sending them to the insurance company?
- How to respond to requests for additional medical records or independent medical examinations?
- How to use your medical records to support your claim and negotiate a fair settlement?
By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to handle your medical records in a car accident claim. You will also learn some tips and tricks on how to use your medical records to your advantage and avoid common pitfalls that could jeopardize your claim.
What are Medical Records and Why are They Important for Your Claim?
Medical records are documents that contain information about your health history, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. They include:
- Hospital admission and discharge papers
- Emergency room reports
- X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other imaging tests
- Lab tests and results
- Prescriptions and medications
- Doctor’s notes and opinions
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation records
- Medical bills and receipts
Medical records are important for your car accident claim because they provide evidence of:
- The extent and severity of your injuries
- The causation and connection between your injuries and the accident
- The necessity and reasonableness of your medical treatment
- The impact of your injuries on your daily life and future prospects
- The amount of damages you are entitled to recover
Without medical records, you will have a hard time proving your claim and getting compensated for your losses. That’s why it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident and follow up with your doctor regularly until you reach maximum recovery.
What are the Risks and Benefits of Releasing Your Medical Records to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
After an accident, the other driver’s insurance company will contact you and ask you for various information, including your medical records. They may send you a form or a letter requesting you to sign a medical authorization that allows them to access any of your medical records related to the accident.
Before you sign anything or send any documents to the insurance company, you should be aware of the risks and benefits of releasing your medical records.
The main benefit of releasing your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company is that it shows that you have nothing to hide and that you are cooperating with their investigation. It also helps them verify your injuries and damages and evaluate your claim.
By providing relevant and necessary medical records, you can demonstrate that:
- You sought medical attention promptly after the accident
- You followed your doctor’s advice and treatment plan
- You suffered serious and permanent injuries that require ongoing care
- You incurred significant medical expenses that are reasonable and necessary
- You experienced pain, suffering, disability, and reduced quality of life due to your injuries
By showing these facts, you can strengthen your claim and increase your chances of getting a fair settlement offer from the insurance company.
The main risk of releasing your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company is that they may use them against you and try to reduce or deny your claim. The insurance company is not on your side. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all.
By accessing your medical records, they may try to:
- Find evidence of pre-existing conditions or injuries that could affect your claim
- Question the causation or connection between your injuries and the accident
- Dispute the necessity or reasonableness of your medical treatment
- Argue that you failed to mitigate or worsen your injuries by not following your doctor’s orders
- Downplay the severity or impact of your injuries on your life
- Offer you a lowball settlement that does not reflect the true value of your claim
By using these tactics, they may try to pressure you into accepting less than what you deserve or convince you that you have no case at all.
How to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Giving Too Much Information to the Insurance Company?
Your medical records contain sensitive and confidential information about your health and personal life. You have the right to protect your privacy and avoid giving too much information to the insurance company that could harm your claim.
Here are some tips on how to protect your privacy and avoid giving too much information to the insurance company:
- Do not sign a blanket medical authorization. The insurance company may ask you to sign a form that gives them unlimited access to any of your medical records. You should not sign such a form because it could allow them to obtain records that are unrelated or irrelevant to your claim. You should only sign a limited authorization that specifies what records you are releasing, for what purpose, and for how long.
- Do not provide records that are unrelated or irrelevant to your claim. The insurance company may ask you for records that have nothing to do with your accident injuries, such as records of a pre-existing condition, a mental health issue, or a family history. You should not provide such records because they could be used to discredit or diminish your claim. You should only provide records that are directly related to your accident injuries and treatment.
- Do not discuss your medical history or condition with the insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster may call you and ask you questions about your medical history or condition. You should not answer such questions because they could be used to twist your words or find inconsistencies in your claim. You should politely decline to answer any questions and refer them to your attorney or your medical records.
How to Obtain and Review Your Medical Records Before Sending Them to the Insurance Company?
Before you release your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company, you should obtain and review them yourself. This will help you ensure that your records are accurate, complete, and relevant to your claim.
How to Obtain Your Medical Records
You have the right to obtain copies of your medical records from your health care providers under HIPAA. To do so, you need to follow these steps:
- Contact your health care provider’s office and ask for their medical record request form. You can also write a letter requesting your records if they don’t have a form.
- Fill out the form or letter with your personal information, such as your name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone number, and email address.
- Specify what records you want to obtain, such as the dates of service, the types of records (e.g., X-rays, lab tests, doctor’s notes), and the format you prefer (e.g., paper or electronic).
- Sign and date the form or letter and submit it to your health care provider’s office. You can deliver it in person, by mail, by fax, or by email, depending on their preference.
- Pay any fees that may apply for obtaining your records. The fees vary by state and provider but are usually based on the number of pages or the time spent on processing your request. You can ask for an estimate before you submit your request.
- Wait for your records to be delivered to you. The delivery time may vary depending on the availability and complexity of your records. However, under HIPAA, your health care provider must respond to your request within 30 days (or 60 days if they need an extension).
How to Review Your Medical Records
Once you receive your medical records, you should review them carefully for any errors or omissions that could affect your claim. Here are some things to look for when reviewing your records:
- Check that your personal information is correct, such as your name, date of birth, address, phone number, and insurance information.
- Check that the dates and times of service are accurate and match with your recollection of the events.
- Check that the diagnoses and treatments are consistent with your injuries and symptoms.
- Check that the prescriptions and medications are appropriate for your condition and dosage.
- Check that the medical bills and receipts reflect the services you received and the amounts you paid or owe.
- Check that there are no gaps or missing records in your file that could raise questions about your treatment or recovery.
If you find any mistakes or discrepancies in your records, you should contact your health care provider and ask them to correct them. You may need to provide proof of the error, such as a receipt or a second opinion. You should also keep a copy of the corrected record for your own reference.
How to Respond to Requests for Additional Medical Records or Independent Medical Examinations?
After you send your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company, they may ask you for more information or documents related to your claim. They may also ask you to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) by a doctor of their choice.
You should be careful when responding to these requests because they may be used to challenge or undermine your claim. Here are some tips on how to handle these situations:
Requests for Additional Medical Records
If the insurance company asks you for more medical records than what you initially provided, you should evaluate whether their request is reasonable and relevant to your claim. You should not give them any records that are unrelated to your accident injuries or that contain sensitive or confidential information.
You should also ask them why they need more records and what they are looking for. If they are trying to find evidence of pre-existing conditions or injuries that could affect your claim, you should consult with an attorney before complying with their request.
You should also be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in your state. This is the deadline by which you must file a lawsuit against the other driver if you cannot reach a settlement with their insurance company. If the insurance company is asking for more records close to this deadline, they may be trying to delay or avoid paying you.
Requests for Independent Medical Examinations
If the insurance company asks you to undergo an IME by a doctor of their choice, you should know that this is not a routine or impartial procedure. The purpose of an IME is to provide an opinion on your injuries and damages that favors the insurance company’s position.
The IME doctor may try to:
- Minimize or deny your injuries and damages
- Disagree or contradict your treating doctor’s opinions and recommendations
- Suggest alternative causes or factors for your injuries
- Imply that you are exaggerating or faking your symptoms
- Give you a low rating for your impairment or disability
An IME can have a significant impact on your claim, especially if it conflicts with your treating doctor’s findings. Therefore, you should be very careful when agreeing to an IME and consult with an attorney before doing so.
How to Prepare for an IME
If you have to undergo an IME, you should prepare yourself for it and follow these tips:
- Be on time for your appointment. If possible, you should arrive at least 30 minutes early. This will show that you are respectful and cooperative.
- Bring someone with you. You can bring a friend, a family member, or an attorney as an observer. They can help you keep track of what happens during the exam and provide moral support. However, they cannot interfere with the exam or answer questions for you.
- Consider seeing your family physician the same day. This will allow you to compare the results of the IME with your own doctor’s assessment and document any discrepancies.
- Be ready to explain your injury. You should be able to describe how the accident happened, what injuries you sustained, what treatment you received, and how your injuries affect your daily life. You should also be prepared to answer questions about your medical history, previous injuries, current medications, and lifestyle habits.
- Be honest. You should not lie or exaggerate about anything related to your injury or claim. The IME doctor will likely have access to your medical records and may try to catch you in a lie. If you are caught lying, it will damage your credibility and hurt your claim.
- Be brief but thorough in your answers. You should not volunteer any information that is not asked or relevant to your claim. You should also avoid giving vague or inconsistent answers that could raise doubts about your injury. You should answer the questions directly and clearly, without rambling or complaining.
- Consult with an attorney before your visit. An attorney can help you understand what to expect from an IME and how to protect your rights and interests. An attorney can also review the IME report and challenge any errors or biases that may affect your claim.
How to Use Your Medical Records to Support Your Claim and Negotiate a Fair Settlement?
Your medical records are one of the most important pieces of evidence in your car accident claim. They can help you prove the extent and impact of your injuries and damages and justify the amount of compensation you are seeking.
To use your medical records effectively, you should:
- Organize and summarize your records. You should keep copies of all your medical records in a safe place and arrange them chronologically by date of service. You should also create a summary of your records that highlights the key information, such as the diagnoses, treatments, costs, and outcomes of your medical care.
- Compare and contrast your records with the IME report. You should review the IME report carefully and compare it with your own medical records. You should look for any discrepancies or contradictions that could affect your claim. You should also point out any errors or biases in the IME report that could undermine its credibility.
- Use your records to calculate your damages. You should use your medical records to estimate the total amount of damages you have incurred and will incur in the future due to your injury. Your damages may include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
- Use your records to negotiate a fair settlement. You should use your medical records as leverage when negotiating with the insurance company. You should present them as evidence of the severity and impact of your injury and demand a fair settlement that reflects the true value of your claim. You should also be ready to counter any arguments or offers that are based on the IME report or other sources.
If you need help with using your medical records to support your claim and negotiate a fair settlement, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process and advocate for your best interests.
Your medical records are vital for your car accident claim. They can help you prove the extent and impact of your injuries and damages and justify the amount of compensation you are seeking.
However, releasing your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company can also pose some risks and challenges for your claim. The insurance company may use your medical records against you and try to reduce or deny your claim. They may also ask you to undergo an independent medical examination that could conflict with your own doctor’s findings.
Therefore, you should be careful when releasing your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company and follow these steps:
- Obtain and review your medical records before sending them to the insurance company
- Protect your privacy and avoid giving too much information to the insurance company
- Respond to requests for additional medical records or independent medical examinations
- Use your medical records to support your claim and negotiate a fair settlement
By following these steps, you can use your medical records to your advantage and avoid common pitfalls that could jeopardize your claim.
If you need help with obtaining, reviewing, or using your medical records in a car accident claim, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney who can assist you with the process and protect your rights.