Our personal injury attorneys frequently get asked whether a claimant must sign the HIPAA or medical authorization for release form from the insurance company after an auto accident. After a car accident, an insurance adjuster will usually reach out to pressure claimants to sign a medical release form. A medical release form allows the insurance company to access your medical records. Typically, the medical release will specify which provider the insurance company can access records from and a date range of treatment they can look at, but exactly what is on the form can vary between companies.
The insurance company or adjuster may make it appear that signing their release is necessary for you to be compensated for your medical bills and injuries. This is not so. While you will have to provide copies of your bills and medical records for them to be reimbursed, you can collect and submit your records yourself rather than letting the insurance company access your medical information point-blank. Collecting your own medical records after your treatment is complete will allow you to see what is in them first.
Because you can turn over your own medical records, we usually recommend that you protect your privacy and do not sign the medical release. When you sign a blank medical release, you may expose medical information or conditions unrelated to your motor vehicle accident. Sometimes, this information can hurt your claim and provide a stated reason for the insurance company to devalue your claim. For example, take a case where a person injures their shoulder in a car accident and goes to see their primary care doctor. The doctor’s notes may mention that the person fell on their shoulder many years ago or that they were seen for shoulder stiffness before the accident. An insurance company can try to use this as ammunition to claim that the current shoulder pain was caused by a pre-existing condition or injury and not primarily from the car crash. This is just one example of why we usually recommend that you or your personal injury attorney request, review, and submit your medical records directly to the insurance company, rather than allow the insurance adjuster to freely dig through your medicals records, usually with an intent to find excuses to deny or devalue one’s claim.
In a situation like this, an experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you and make sure that only your necessary medical records are submitted to an insurance company. If you were injured in a car accident and need help with your medical records or with dealing with an auto insurance company, you can speak to one of our car accident lawyers today.