Will the Insurance Company Have Access to My Past Medical Records?
The insurance company won’t have access to your past and present medical history, unless you provide them authorization to obtain it or it is provided to them during the claim because that information is protected by HIPAA laws. However, the medical records for your case that we end up submitting to the insurance company will usually reference all of your relevant medical history because your doctors need to know that information prior to treating you. In effect, at least a relevant past medical history is going to be contained in your medical records, so while the adjuster won’t have access to those records directly, they’ll be alerted to any past medical issues that could be relevant to this claim.
What happens sometimes is that, in order to give a settlement offer or move forward with a lawsuit, the insurance company will request records from any past medical history that they feel is relevant to the claim.
In addition, the insurance company may become aware of past insurance claims that have been made by doing an ISO Claim Search, which would reveal any prior motor vehicle accidents, whether you were at fault or not, and other incidents where an insurance claim was filed. (An example of a non-motor vehicle accident where an insurance claim could be filed would be a workers’ compensation accident.) They would likely be able to see all that information in an ISO Claim Search. If the search comes up positive, then the insurance company will usually request those prior medical records up to a certain time frame. It could be seven years back or even as far as ten years.
If the claim does materialize into a lawsuit, it’s almost guaranteed that the insurance company will have their attorney request the past ten years of your medical history in the discovery process. They might even request records for anything that’s relevant to the motor vehicle accident and the injuries you’re claiming were a result of the motor vehicle accident. All of that is to say that the insurance company will probably become entitled to your relevant medical history or be alerted through medical records that are part of the current case at some point. Regardless, you should NEVER provide an insurance company with written authorization to obtain your medical records.
Should I Accept the Initial Settlement Offer Made by the Insurance Company?
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to offer quick settlements that are usually lowball offers early on to unrepresented claimants and attempt to gain a release for less than full value. It’s actually a very common tactic used by insurance companies to try and clear these cases as soon as possible for less than full value.
There are many reasons to advise against accepting such a settlement before speaking with an attorney. The main reason is that your injuries have likely not fully materialized early on in the case, and if you accept a settlement early on, the case is going to be closed and terminated for good. Meaning, you will have given up your right to further compensation by signing that release, regardless of whether your condition worsens or not. While their lowball offers may seem like a lot of money in the beginning, you could end up being responsible for significant medical bills and other items, despite not being at fault for the accident.
When it comes down to it, a lay person (an ordinary person) doesn’t know the true value of their claim because they’re not an expert in this field. They don’t know what injuries and cases are worth or what their future medical bills are going to cost. If someone accepts an early settlement, it’s more than likely that they’re going to end up settling for less than full value and leaving money on the table. They could be left holding the bag for future medical costs and even past medical bills. I would always advise against taking any settlement from an insurance company before speaking to an attorney about it and letting them review the settlement conditions and the amount. The attorney will advise you based on your injuries, medical bills, and everything else involved in the case.
For more information on Past Medical Records in Your PI Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 900-7324 today.
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