After a serious injury or accident, it can be a tough time to be making huge decisions. Insurance companies are calling, medical bills are piling up, and you might be losing work and income. It can be easy to give up and start signing paperwork you don’t understand without really thinking through all your options. Instead of signing documents you don’t understand, call a Kansas City personal injury lawyer. The call is always free, so there’s no risk to getting the answers you need right away. Here are five things you should never sign without first speaking to an experienced attorney.
Medical Records Authorization
Insurance companies often reach out to victims within hours of a collision. They will pretend to be genuinely concerned about you and use a comforting and caring tone. They may ask how you’re feeling and if you would like to have the insurance company set up a free appointment to see a doctor, just to be sure everything is okay. Maybe they offer to pay all your medical bills so you don’t have to think about it. They will usually need you to sign some simple paperwork just so they can take care of the bills. STOP.
As tempting as it may be to sign the papers and let the insurance company “take it from here,” the fact is the paperwork they want you to sign will almost always include a blanket authorization, which allows them to go fishing through your entire medical history to look for anything they can use to deny your claim. A week after you sign such a form, the same adjuster may call and tell you that because you fell and hurt your back 10 years ago, they cannot pay your bills, as they don’t feel they are related.
Employment Records Authorization
Many insurance companies are now offering to call the victims’ employers for them to let them know about the injuries and to help pay lost wages. Sounds tempting, right? Well, if you sign the authorization, the insurance company will look for evidence of missed shifts, disciplinary actions, or anything it can later use to argue you lost wages for a different reason. Just say no.
Release or Settlement Agreement
If the claims adjuster wants you to sign something called an agreement or release, it is not for your benefit. Sadly, many victims have lost their entire right to be compensated by signing a settlement agreement, thinking that they were getting a different amount than what they were promised. Here’s how it works. The insurance adjuster says he will give you $30,000 for your injury, and you feel it’s fair. You sign the form and return it. A week later, you get a check for $4,000. When you ask where the rest of it went, the adjuster informs you that the rest went to liens and medical bills. Technical language in the release allows this.
Some adjusters want recorded statements. Others might ask you to just write something in your own words about what happened. Don’t do it. It’s a trap. These written statements will be used against you later.
Not all paperwork comes from the insurance company. Some healthcare providers will want you to sign lengthy and complicated lien documents allowing them to recover their bills from your case. In many cases, this is fine. Missouri law permits provider liens against injury cases. But some unscrupulous providers overcharge and milk their patients’ cases, leaving little for the injured victim. Talk to a local personal injury lawyer first to make sure the lien is reasonable, and the provider is trustworthy.
Attorneys who can help with your Injury Case
At the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm, we pride ourselves on a fresh and innovative approach to pursuing justice for our clients. We don’t just handle cases, we manage them. We work with our clients to maximize compensation and get our clients back on their feet faster. If you’ve been hurt in a Kansas City auto crash, call or visit us online to get started.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.