There are several things car crash victims must prove to validate a claim for compensation. They not only need to prove that they suffered an injury, but they must also prove the connection between that injury and the crash.
That is where your medical records come in. Your medical records detail your diagnosis, treatment and the cause of your injuries. You will need to provide these records to the insurance company to validate your claim for compensation.
However, you need to be careful disclosing these records. You should allow your attorney to handle this on your behalf, as he or she can make sure you are only providing the relevant records.
The insurance company may ask you to sign a document granting them access to all your records, including records that have nothing to do with your car crash. They want to find documented proof of other injuries or medical conditions so they can blame your current symptoms on those other medical problems. They will often ask you to sign an authorization that contains no limitations on the age or scope of the records they can request.
If you have questions about validating a claim for compensation, give us a call. Our Cleveland-based car accident lawyers are ready to help you seek the compensation you need after a car crash. We can handle each step of the legal process, including disclosure of medical records.
Privacy and Your Medical Records
With certain exceptions, you are the only one who can access your personal health records. You can waive your right to privacy in writing, which you may need to do for a car insurance claim. You may also need to grant access to your treating doctor.
Privacy of personal health information is a right afforded by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA. This law also allows you to obtain medical records for your child, an adult you legally represent and a deceased person if you have been appointed to represent his or her estate.
Releasing your medical records to the insurance company should be done with guidance from an experienced attorney to protect your claim. However, releasing your medical records to your attorney is not a risk because your attorney is bound by attorney-client privilege. That means conversations about your case cannot be shared with others. An attorney is also committed to helping you build a strong case, unlike the insurance company.
Medical Records in a Car Accident Claim
There are a few times when medical records come up in a car accident claim.
Insurance Company Request for Records
If the insurance company contacts you, they may ask you to provide medical records so they can quickly resolve the claim.
You should not sign anything from the insurance company at this point in the process. You are likely still receiving treatment so it is impossible to know the ongoing problems your injuries may cause. It is also impossible to know the full value of your claim.
It is also a bad idea to sign a medical records release request given to you by an insurance company. The request will likely ask for records from before your crash in addition to records relevant to your car crash injuries. If you sign the request, you could give the insurance company access to information that could be used against you.
If you had existing medical issues from before the crash and these are detailed in your records, the insurance company will say your current symptoms are related to the existing medical issues.
If you are being asked questions by the insurance company or being asked to sign things and you are unsure about it, call us to schedule a free legal consultation. Our attorneys can explain how we may be able to help you.
If you hire our firm, we can review records before providing them to the insurance company, as our goal is protecting the value of your claim and your medical privacy.
Medical Records With Your Demand Letter
When your lawyer drafts a demand letter, it will include evidence to validate your claims. This often includes medical records relevant to your claim. However, the insurance company may request more records before deciding whether to agree with your demands.
You should let your attorney handle this request. He or she can decide if the request makes sense. We are only going to provide relevant records to validate your injuries and the damages you are seeking. For example, additional X-rays or notes from other doctors who treated you may be relevant to your claim.
The insurance company may ask for a report from one of your doctors to clarify a medical issue. However, you should never allow the insurance company to contact the doctor. Your attorney can determine if the request is reasonable and help you explain the request to your doctor.
If a doctor agrees to write a report and thinks it would help your claim, it may be a good idea to agree to the insurance company’s request.
Medical Records During Discovery
If your attorney files a lawsuit, one of the steps before a trial is discovery. This is where both sides exchange information to build their case. The insurance company may ask for additional medical records beyond what you provided with your demand letter.
What if the Insurance Adjuster Asks for a Medical Exam?
Sometimes insurance companies want an independent medical exam. They may say their goal is to get a better understanding of your injury or confirm your claims about the seriousness of your injuries.
However, their true goal is to get a report from a doctor that conflicts with the claims made by your treating doctor. Their goal is to find a reason to deny or underpay your claim.
Sometimes you may need to go through an independent medical exam, but this should not be done without consulting a licensed attorney.
Call Our Experienced Law Firm Today for Assistance
There are many decisions you will need to make after a car crash. One of the most important decisions is your choice of an attorney.
You do not want to go it alone during such a stressful, confusing time. An experienced attorney can take on the insurance company and pursue full compensation. You can rely on an attorney to manage your claim while you go to the doctor and recover from your injuries.
Call to learn about the benefits of an attorney. 216-621-0070
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