Should I Sign a Medical Release for the Insurance Adjuster?
In the aftermath of a car accident, you may receive a phone call from someone with the title of insurance claims adjuster. An insurance adjuster is someone the at-fault driver’s carrier will assign to your car accident claim. The adjuster has the job of reviewing your claim and recommending to the insurance company whether or not to accept liability. It is important to tread carefully when dealing with an insurance adjuster. The adjuster may try many tactics to get you to settle for less than your case is worth.
Why Do Insurance Adjusters Ask for Medical Release Forms?
An insurance claims adjuster may ask you to sign a medical release form so he or she can access your medical records. It may seem normal for an insurance adjuster to ask you to sign off on releasing your medical records during a personal injury claim. After all, the company will need to verify that the injuries you are claiming exist. However, the way in which the adjuster asks could make a drastic difference. Beware of signing anything from an insurance company without first bringing it to a personal injury lawyer to review.
An adjuster may ask you to sign off on the release of your medical history to find ways to invalidate your claim to damages. The adjuster may wish to access your full medical background, for example, to search for pre-existing injuries. Then, the adjuster may allege that you already had the injury you are claiming came from the accident. Finding evidence of pre-existing injuries is the main reason insurance adjusters request the release of medical information.
The Dangers of Signing a Medical Authorization Document
Do not take an insurance adjuster at his or her word when the adjuster says you need to sign a medical release waiver for the good of your claim. The adjuster generally does not want access to your medical information to pay you an amount that is appropriate for your injuries and medical bills. Instead, the adjuster’s goal in getting you to sign a release is to find information he or she can use against you to refute the insurance company’s liability for your injuries.
The most common strategy is to find proof of pre-existing injuries or pain in the same area you are now claiming has injuries from the recent accident. Even if you never received treatment for your pre-existing injury, a complaint about it in your medical records could give the insurer enough ammunition to deny your claim. For this reason, it is important not to sign any documents from an insurance company – including medical release forms – without talking to an attorney first.
No law in Arizona obligates you to sign documents from an insurance company. Instead of signing right away, politely tell the insurance adjuster that you wish your lawyer to read over the forms before you will sign and return them to the carrier. A lawyer can look for issues or potential invasions of your privacy, such as the form asking you to release all of your medical records instead of only those related to the accident in question. This is a common tactic adjusters use to deceive claimants into giving blanket authorizations for the release of their full medical histories.
Signing a medical release form without understanding its terms could allow an insurance company to access sensitive medical information that has nothing to do with your case. It could also provide an incomplete picture of your current physical or mental state due to unfinished treatment plans or missing information. Ultimately, your signature could lead to the dramatic reduction of the settlement the insurance company offers – if it offers a settlement at all. Instead of signing away your rights on a release form, work with an accident attorney to only take the steps that will maximize your settlement. A lawyer can help you know which documents to sign and which to send back when dealing with an insurance claims adjuster.