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Do I Have to Share Medical History After Getting Into an Accident?

Posted on March 6, 2024 in Personal Injury

It is important to know your legal rights as the victim of an accident in California. The insurance company that receives your claim may try to take advantage of you to save money on your payout. One of the most successful methods of deceiving claimants is perusing their medical history to find reasons to deny claims, such as pre-existing injuries.

What to Expect After You File an Insurance Claim

When you file a claim against another person’s insurance company, such as after a car accident caused by another driver, someone known as the insurance claims adjuster will contact you with a release request. You will be sent a form with a title such as “Medical Authorization Release Request.” The insurance adjuster will state that access to your medical records is necessary before the insurance company can process your claim.

While a request for medical records may seem reasonable during an injury claim, do not trust the insurance adjuster. What he or she is not telling you is that the release form most likely requests access to your full medical history, not just the records related to the accident. This is a tactic used to search for pre-existing injuries or medical conditions that can be used as a reason to reject payment.

Do Not Sign a Medical Records Request Form 

You will eventually have to share your medical history with an insurance company after getting into an accident. However, you do not and should not sign the initial record request sent to you by the insurer. This could release too much information to the insurance company and jeopardize your claim. You have the right to withhold certain medical records and only provide the insurance company with those that are relevant to your case.

An insurance company does not have the right to investigate your complete medical history. They only have the right to request medical information related to the accident. When an insurance claims adjuster asks you to sign a medical authorization release form, this is most likely a violation of your HIPAA privacy rights as a patient, which insurance companies legally must follow.

When you are issued a medical records release form, read its fine print carefully or bring it to a personal injury lawyer for a professional review. If it requests full access to your medical history, an attorney can help you communicate with the insurer to deny the request and instead send only the key medical records pertaining to your case, such as recent injury x-rays. This can protect your legal rights and privacy during the claims process.

Can a Pre-Existing Injury Bar You From Financial Recovery?

Even if your medical history contains a pre-existing injury or medical condition and gets released to the insurer, you will still be eligible for financial compensation for damage caused by the accident. If a slip and fall accident exacerbated a pre-existing back injury, for example, you could recover financial compensation for the difference between the severity of your injury before and after the accident. 

Under a legal doctrine known as the eggshell skull rule, defendants must take plaintiffs as-is at the time of an accident, even if the plaintiff has a pre-existing condition that makes him or her more prone to serious injury than the average person. As long as you can prove that the injury you are claiming was caused or exacerbated by the recent accident and the defendant’s negligence, you can recover compensation for related medical bills and other losses.

If you were recently injured in an accident, contact an attorney at Rose, Klein & Marias LLP for a free case consultation. We can give you guidance on how to provide necessary information during your insurance claim without disclosing unrelated medical history.