Protecting Your Right to Privacy
When filing a personal injury claim, insurance companies will request medical records to corroborate the medical bills for which you are seeking reimbursement. But insurance companies will also use medical records as a resource through which to comb for evidence that could reduce the value of your claim. While you probably won't see your claim paid if you withhold your medical records, you can take steps to protect your rights and only release relevant information to the insurance company.
Is Release Required?
First, you should know the insurance company does not have a right to view your entire medical record history. In fact, they don't have a right to view your medical records at all without seeking your consent. To access your records, the insurance company will ask you to sign a release. These are called HIPPA releases, which provide third-parties access to your providers' records according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPPA protects your rights as a patient, so thoroughly review the release before you even think about signing it. And, before you sign it, keep these facts in mind.
The insurance company will require access to your medical records to pay your claim. In fact, they will need proof of any incurred costs for which you are seeking reimbursements, such as prescriptions and referrals. They have a legal right to ask you for your consent. And, if you want to settle your claim, you must provide that consent.
What the insurance company won't tell you is that you have a legal right to restrict the company's access to your medical record history. Insurance companies will often ask for unrestricted access to your records. They want access to your complete medical history so they can find reasons to deny your claim. For example, a preexisting condition can cause an insurance company to question whether the policy will cover the costs of your current treatment. So, if the insurance company discovered you injured your neck ten years ago, it might refuse to compensate you fully for your current treatment for whiplash.
To protect your rights, don't sign the release the insurance company gives you. Either work with an attorney to draft your own including the standard HIPPA verbiage or alter the one they sent you, so it limits their access to only relevant records. Usually, there will be a blank space in which you can list the providers who have treated you. Be as specific as possible, so there is no room for misinterpretation. You can do this by only listing physicians, clinics, and hospitals that have treated you for injuries related to your claim. Also, be sure to specify the time period from which the insurance company can request records.
In some cases, this will commence the date of your accident. Please note that if your current provider knows about a preexisting condition, the insurance company may try to request records of that condition, no matter how distant it might be. If this happens, speak with an attorney about what you can do. Sometimes you can obtain those records straight from the provider and redact irrelevant information before submitting them to the insurance company.
Your rights are important, especially when you are trying to receive the compensation you deserve. Always work with a California personal injury attorney when releasing your medical records to an insurance company
A personal injury attorney can spot the tactics insurance companies use to deny claims and help you file your claim while protecting your rights. Most insurance companies will stop at nothing to find a reason to deny claims, including combing through years of medical records to find preexisting conditions. Don't let insurance companies take advantage of you. Rather, work alongside an attorney to ensure you only provide the insurance company with access to relevant medical records. This will protect your right to privacy, limit the information the insurance company has access to, and increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for all your losses.
Do you need help getting the compensation you deserve? Fresno area personal injury attorney Christopher Martens can help you protect your interests and rights while settling your claim. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide knowledgeable personal injury claim guidance. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.