As implied by the term “personal injury claim,” you will have to prove that you have sustained an injury as a result of an accident to receive any compensation from an insurance company. However, signing over the release of your entire medical record to an insurance adjuster is one of the worst mistakes you can make during negotiations. Insurance adjusters have every reason to maximize profit for their company by minimizing the amount of compensation you receive. They will use any excuse, such as a pre-existing condition on your medical record, to argue that your claim for damages should be lower.
Knowing what medical records will support your injury claim, and what records will detract from it, is a fine line to balance. You want to prove how devastating your injuries have been, but even a small, old detail on your medical records can be twisted by an insurance adjuster into a reason to not provide you reasonably deserved compensation. An Indianapolis personal injury lawyer can assist in managing the most helpful medical record releases to an insurance company on your behalf.
What Medical Records Can Support My Injury Claim in Indiana?
A good rule of thumb is that if a medical record is directly related to your injury as a result of an accident, it should be sufficient to support your injury claim.
Medical Records Related to Accident Injuries
Your documentation of medical treatment begins as soon as you receive care for your injury following the accident. This can include treatment received at the emergency room, your primary care provider, any specialists, physical therapists, and so on. The most important piece of information in these records is a diagnosis of your injury with any details regarding location, severity, and ongoing symptoms.
X-Rays and Images That Show Injuries
Any physical injury that you receive treatment for will likely have imaging proving that the injury occurred. This can include x-rays of broken bones, MRIs or CT scans to show traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or damage sustained to organs, and photographs of wounds. Because it is difficult to deny that an injury occurred as a result of an accident when there is definite visual documentation, medical imaging is very important.
Proof of Received and Recommended Treatment
A medical professional will clearly document what kinds of treatment you received in your care for your injury, and what treatment they recommend moving forward. For example, if you broke your leg, your doctors should document that you were diagnosed at an emergency room, you received surgery to correct the break, you wore a cast with a mobility device, and you were referred to a physical therapist to continue healing. Your physical therapist should document what kinds of therapy you underwent and how frequent your treatment occurred.
You should always follow your doctor and care team’s recommendations for treatment. A gap in your medical treatment, or ignoring recommendations, can result in your injury worsening — but this will be framed as a result of personal negligence, and your total compensation for your injuries will be reduced.
What Medical Records Are Not Relevant to an Indiana Injury Claim?
Any medical records that are not directly related to your injury caused by an accident should not be released to the insurance adjuster, unless your car accident attorney in Indianapolis decides that they are relevant to your claim.
General Medical Release Forms
Insurance adjusters will often request that you sign a “medical release” that will hand over your entire medical record to them without any discretion as to what is in it. They can then use these records to potentially deny you fair compensation for your injuries.
Pre-existing conditions that you have been diagnosed with and received continuing medical treatment for will be used against you if an insurance adjuster receives irrelevant medical records. They will argue that you should receive lower compensation than if the pre-existing condition did not exist, because your injury would not have been as severe.
If you broke your leg, the insurance adjuster does not need to know about an ankle sprain sustained while running years ago, or surgery you previously received for plantar fasciitis. These incidents are completely unrelated to your injury, but an insurance adjuster might argue that they resulted in a worse injury. Chronic pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, obesity, COPD, and depression can also be made into irrelevant excuses to deny you compensation.
What Should I Do if an Insurance Adjuster Requests Medical Records or an Examination in Indiana?
If an insurance adjuster requests that you release certain medical records, you should consult with an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer before even considering their request. Your lawyer can help determine if the adjuster’s request is reasonable and if the records will support your injury claim.
You should never let an insurance adjuster contact your doctor directly. You should also tell the adjuster that the insurance company should pay for any records they request, since doctors offices often charge a fee to copy and release the records.
It is completely reasonable to protect your privacy and deny an insurance adjuster access to your medical records. If you are simply filing an insurance claim. If your claim ends up being a lawsuit, the insurance company should then go through appropriate legal procedures to ask for access to records or request a further medical examination. It is incredibly important to consult with an Indianapolis car accident lawyer before even speaking with an insurance adjuster. A lawyer will protect you in the negotiations with an insurance company to maximize your deserved compensation for an injury and fight for your best interests.