If you suffered serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident another driver caused, you may have filed a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Often, car crash victims receive a request to give the at-fault driver’s insurance company a medical authorization after a car wreck. If you want to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other compensatory damages, do not sign this document before speaking with an attorney.
Insurance companies may use your private medical records to reduce your settlement amount or reject your claim. To find out more, contact the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC. We can help you avoid the pitfalls of the insurance claims process as you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. Call 865-546-1111 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
What Is a Medical Authorization Release?
This is a document from the at-fault driver’s insurance company asking you to give the insurer permission to review your medical records. Signing the document means you allow the company to review medical, psychological, psychiatric, chiropractic, and other healthcare records in connection with treatment you received after your accident.
Why Do Insurance Companies Want Medical Records?
Insurance adjusters would say that having more information about a claimant’s injuries helps in determining a settlement amount. Adjusters are actually looking for pre-existing medical conditions related to your current injuries. An adjuster can use pre-existing medical conditions to deny or reduce a claim.
For instance, if you suffered a knee injury in the accident and your medical records show that you complained years ago about having stiff knees, an adjuster might claim that your current injury was a pre-existing medical condition and not related to the car accident. In this case, an insurer would deny your claim for compensation.
An adjuster might also see where your insurance claim contained an injury that you did not initially report to the doctor during your post-accident treatment. Sometimes, injuries do not immediately show up after an accident, but manifest prior to filing an insurance claim. Adjusters may not take this particular injury into account when calculating your damages. We would aggressively challenge this action and include the injury when negotiating your claim.
What Should I Do If an Insurance Company Asks for My Medical Records?
We recommend that you obtain your own medical records and only send documents relevant to the injuries you suffered in the accident. Do not give the insurance company permission to receive the files directly and review all of your medical records. For instance, if you suffered a broken leg in the accident, you can allow an insurance adjuster to review:
- X-rays or scans of your leg;
- Your doctor’s initial and follow-up treatment of your leg;
- Your doctor’s estimate of your recovery time; and
- The type of pain medication your doctor prescribed.
Insurance adjusters may also want to see your doctor’s notes regarding conversations you had about your injuries and your doctor’s prognosis. If you must send medical records, your doctor’s office might bill you for the cost of the files. If you choose to have our firm represent you, we can speak on your behalf to the insurance company about agreeing to pay the costs to copy the files.
What Should I Do If the Insurance Company Asks Me to Undergo a Medical Examination?
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company questions the severity of your injury, the insurer can ask you to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) with a doctor the company selects. Do not go to an IME before speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can tell you what to expect at the examination.
In our decades of combined experience in handling all aspects of insurance claims, we have found that insurers use IMEs to:
- Deny or reduce settlement awards;
- Minimize the seriousness of a claimant’s serious injury;
- Counter a doctor’s opinion on the claimant’s injuries; and
- Obtain a favorable medical opinion to use against the claimant.
Insurance companies pay doctors to conduct IMEs. These physicians may say whatever the insurer wants, as long as the insurance company continues referring patients to them. If you must undergo an IME, we will advise you on how to conduct yourself during the examination so you do not jeopardize your chances of recovering compensation for your injury. We will also compare the IME findings to your doctor’s opinion.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
At the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, we know the tactics insurance companies use to reject claims—and we know how to defend against them. You can rely on us to protect your legal rights and help you recover the maximum compensation you deserve for your serious auto accident injuries.
Before you file a claim, release your medical files, or undergo an IME, contact us at 865-546-1111 for a free consultation.