Have you been involved in a Kansas City car accident? Did the other driver’s insurance company contact you to discuss settling your injury claim? Were you given paperwork that you don’t understand and asked to sign it before you can be paid? If so, stop! Do not sign anything until you’ve at least met with an attorney first. Insurance adjusters have two basic forms they may request you sign: A Release Agreement and a Medical Authorization.
At the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm, we are here to help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries. Here’s what you need to know about these documents.
Understanding Healthcare Privacy Laws
Just like when you go to a new doctor and they have you sign a healthcare authorization form, insurance companies almost always will want you to sign this type of medical release. Under federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects your right to privacy. No one gets to see your private health information and medical records without your permission.
Of course, insurance companies have a right to make sure that you indeed suffered the injuries you are claiming, so they will want to review your medical records and bills before paying. Here’s the catch: they should only be looking at the directly related medical care you received because of the crash, not all of your medical care since birth.
Never Sign a Medical Release and Authorization Form
When the insurance company sends you a HIPAA-compliant healthcare release authorization form, it often contains overreaching and abusive language that allows them to obtain “any and all” records, bills, and charts from your entire life. They may even sneak in language allowing them access to personnel records from your employers (past and present) as well as your criminal records, military service records, or just about any other protected or private information they want to access. Why, you may ask, would they want that?
Reasons Why an Insurance Company Wants All Your Records
Well, the insurance company assumes that like most people, at some point you may have hurt yourself before. Here are some common reasons for seeking your lifelong medical history:
- Looking for reasons to say your injuries were pre-existing
- Finding “dirt” on you to embarrass you or threaten you into accepting a lowball offer (criminal history, STDs, mental illness, etc…)
- Arguing that you have a drug or alcohol history (which they might try to argue makes you less credible)
- Looking for evidence that you exaggerate your medical conditions (even if unrelated to the present accident)
- Anything else that could help them avoid paying you
What a Lawyer Can Do to Help
When you hire an experienced auto accident lawyer, we will carefully review your related medical treatment records before producing them to the insurance company. If we see problems, we can discuss them with you and develop a strategy. If the insurance company wants to deny you compensation based on irrelevant or unrelated matters, we can file suit against the other driver and get a jury to decide the case. Often, much of what the insurance company is seeking is completely inadmissible at trial, meaning a lot of what the insurance company is doing amounts to little more than a bluff, albeit a threatening and frustrating one.
As attorneys who handle these cases every day, we know what is relevant and what is admissible. We will keep things fair and put you on even footing with the insurance company so that you are not intimidated or threatened into taking a lowball offer. Call the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm today for a free case evaluation, and get on the road to recovering compensation for your injuries.
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.