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What You Need to Know About Disclosing Medical Records in an Injury Claim

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Dec 09, 2021 in Personal Injury

electronic medical records with computers in backgroundWhen pursuing compensation for a personal injury, you need to provide proof you suffered an injury from the accident in question. That is why you will probably need to disclose your medical records to the insurance company and/or the at-fault party’s lawyers.

However, you need to be careful not to disclose too much to the insurance company. For example, say they request access to your medical records and give you a form to sign. You are within your rights to wait to review it with a licensed attorney – and you should.

The reason for not signing immediately is that this form may be for a blanket release of your medical records. This would give the insurance company access to your full medical history, including records from before the accident.

Why would the insurance company do this?

They are looking for some reason to deny or devalue your claim. For example, they may cite a preexisting health issue as evidence you were not hurt in the accident.

Below, our experienced Phoenix-based personal injury lawyers discuss what injury victims need to know about disclosing medical records during the legal process.

Why Medical Records Need to be Released

The goal of filing a personal injury claim is to recover compensation for the victim’s medical costs and other damages. The victim’s injuries, treatment and the cost of that treatment is detailed in the victim’s medical records.

Releasing medical records allows both parties in an injury claim to:

  • Review the injuries and their severity
  • Assess the strength of the victim’s case
  • Determine the cost of the medical treatment the victim received

While both sides need to access your medical records, they do not have a right to view your full medical history. The insurance company and/or at-fault party’s lawyers only need to review the records that are relevant to the claim.

Legal Protection of Your Medical Records

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) limits access to your medical records. Typically, you are the only one who can request your medical records or allow someone else to access them.

There are some exceptions to this. For example, you can request the medical records of your child. You can also request records for another adult if you are that person’s legal representative. Those who are legally appointed to represent a deceased person’s estate can also request medical records.

It is important to remember you have control over the disclosure of your medical records. The insurance company does not have the right to obtain your medical records without your authorization.

Insurers often pressure injury victims to quickly sign an authorization for the release of medical records. They may say it will speed up the process and they only want to make sure you get compensation as quickly as possible. The real reason for this pressure is that it serves their interest in paying out as little compensation as possible.

If you sign a release that gives the insurance company access to all your medical records, this information could be used to discredit you. The insurance company may find and use records of a preexisting illness to claim you did not get injured in the accident.

Unfortunately, insurance companies know many victims are unsure or unaware of their rights. However, you do not need to agree to a quick settlement or sign a blanket release of medical records to ensure you receive compensation. The first settlement offer from the insurance company probably will not be the last, especially if you hire an attorney to represent you.

Obtaining Medical Records

There is no need to stress about determining what records to release and how to obtain them. One of the advantages of hiring a licensed attorney is that he or she can do this for you. You simply need to give your attorney written permission to make this request. He or she can take care of the rest.

Unlike the insurance company, your attorney will be focused on your best interests. He or she can determine what records will be needed for your claim and request only those records.

Could a Preexisting Injury Still be an Issue?

The short answer is yes. The insurance company may still find out about an existing health issue. It is possible this issue will be mentioned in the records that are used to validate your claim.

For example, you may have mentioned a certain existing health problem when you were treated for your accident injuries. If so, the doctor likely noted this in your records. However, it is still important to discuss these things with doctors so they can differentiate between new symptoms and old ones. These details can also be useful to your claim if the doctor determines the accident caused an existing injury to get worse. You may be able to obtain compensation for the worsening or aggravation of an old injury.

A preexisting injury does not bar you from recovering compensation for a new injury. The insurance company may try to say an old injury should limit your claim’s value because you were more likely to get injured. However, this is simply not true.

That said, if you do have a preexisting injury or illness, do not try to hide it. This could hurt your claim, and your attorney needs to know about it to be prepared when the insurance company brings it up.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Legal Options

If your injury was caused by another’s negligence and could have been prevented, we may be able to help you seek compensation. We know compensation cannot change what happened, but it is an important part of moving forward after an accident.

For nearly 30 years, Phillips Law Group has been securing compensation for injury victims throughout Arizona. We take cases on contingency – there are no upfront costs and no fees while working on your case.

Schedule a free legal consultation today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

Phillips Law Group is here to help you. Call 1-800-706-3000.

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