Do I Have to Release My Entire Medical History After a Car Accident?
If a person asked you over the phone to release your medical history, would you do it? Of course not. It’s illegal. But for some reason, when an insurance adjuster asks to release someone’s medical history, things change. Don’t believe what an insurance adjuster tells you – you do not have to give them access to your medical records. When insurance adjusters try to get access to your medical history, you have certain rights.
When insurance adjusters ask you to sign medical releases, they could be violating your privacy and your medical rights. They do have the right to request information related to the accident – but that is it. They do not have the right to investigate your entire medical history. In fact, there is likely information in your medical history that they can use against you, even if it’s unrelated to the accident. Knowing your rights and options can help protect you.
Be careful about signing medical releases
Under no circumstances should you sign a release giving your insurance company access to your medical records. After a car accident, insurance adjusters will want you to sign medical release forms to review your medical history.
They will claim that they need your medical history to validate the nature of some of your injuries, but that’s not entirely true. Because medical release forms are broad, insurance adjusters can search all of your past medical history to look for information they have no right to know, like your other health conditions.
Getting around the HIPAA privacy rule
If it sounds like your HIPAA laws are being violated, that’s because they are. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your health information should not be revealed to anyone outside of a health care provider without your permission. That is why adjusters ask or even trick you into signing medical release forms. They know they can’t gain access to your medical records without getting your “permission.”
Can my pre-existing conditions be used against me by an insurance company?
Your pre-existing conditions are the main information that insurance companies are looking for. Insurance adjusters want to argue that your injuries are related to your pre-existing conditions instead of caused by their client’s negligent actions. Your medical history can reveal information about your health conditions from as far back as 10 years ago, conditions that have nothing to do with the accident and injuries at hand. Insurance adjusters can use all types of information in your medical records in an attempt to discredit what is in your claim.
It doesn’t just stop at trying to strongarm you to sign medical release forms. Insurance adjusters will also request information about other private documents. They will ask you to release your employment records, your tax records, and even take a look at your criminal records. It’s like opening up Pandora’s box. Once they gain access to your medical records, they will search for more information to discredit your claim.
What information am I required to provide after a Phoenix car accident?
When it comes to the information you have to share with the insurance company, you only have to tell them two things: the date of your accident and your injuries from the accident. Other than that, they don’t need to know anything else related to your medical history. If they continue to hound you, our Phoenix attorneys can help assert your rights.
What if I’ve already released my medical history?
If you’ve already signed a medical release form, don’t be alarmed. You still have certain rights that prevent insurance companies from using your information, including requesting that your medical release form be revoked. To properly revoke your medical release form, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.
What is an independent medical examination?
The medical release form is not the only way that insurance companies will try to learn about your medical history. Another request they will make is for you to take an independent medical examination (IME). They will definitely ask you to participate in this if you decline to sign a medical release form. An IME is a medical evaluation by the insurance company’s physician that is supposed to result in an unbiased opinion about your injuries. But that is often not the case.
The doctor is chosen by the insurance company, so they’re automatically on their side. The doctor will also ask you specific questions related to your accident and injuries. This is where the real issues begin. You will be asked questions that are geared toward finding any contradictions with your injuries and your statements.
Besides choosing the doctor, independent medical examinations are in favor of insurance companies. Unlike a medical release form, your claim can be affected if you decide not to participate in an IME. It can even be denied altogether. You are also required to answer any questions that the doctor asks. The answers that you give can also hurt you if you share information that they don’t need to know.
How to handle IMEs
There are some actions that you can use to better handle an independent medical examination. First, consult with your Phoenix attorney to ensure you are thoroughly prepared for your appointment and understand what information to share – and what not to. Ensure you review your medical records beforehand. Even though you will have to give a copy to the doctor, you should be familiar with the information that will be presented.
At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we fight for honest people with honest injuries. Our car accident lawyers are ready to fight for the outcome that our Phoenix and Tempe clients deserve. Call our office at 602-266-2002, or submit our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Partner Frank Verderame is a seasoned trial attorney, who has dedicated his life to helping victims of serious injuries. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, and has been an active part of legal communities and organizations since he started his practice, back in 1983.
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