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After filing a claim with your insurance company, you may receive documents back that require your signature. Some of these documents will likely include a medical or property damage release form from the insurance company.
While the insurance company may make you think signing these documents are mandatory, do not sign any release forms without first speaking to one of our experienced attorneys. Many do not know that you do not have to sign these forms right away or at all.
Should I Sign a Medical Record or Property Damage Release from an Insurance Company?
You should not sign a medical record or property damage release from an insurance company or allow them verbal permission to obtain records. It is best to locate records yourself and then pass them on to the insurance adjuster. This way, you are able to review your records first and make sure only the required information is released.
Releasing more information than is necessary could not only be harmful to your claim, but your records are your private information and not everything needs to be released. Other records, such as your medical history, are sensitive and might be uncomfortable to disclose. Make sure that you request your documents yourself and carefully review them before giving the records directly to a claims adjuster.
Medical Record Release
After an accident, the process for a personal injury claim settlement usually includes requests for medical records. This is to help understand the extent of your injuries and helps to confirm the injuries were caused by the accident. You may have already sent some medical records to the claims adjuster, but they may ask for more than what you provided.
One example where the insurance adjuster may ask for more medical records is to see if there is a preexisting injury. The adjuster may want to see documentation about a specific injury to see how bad the injury was and determine if the injury became worse after the accident. If you have other, unrelated preexisting injuries, the insurance adjuster may use it against you to weaken your claim.
The adjuster may ask for more medical records than you feel necessary or that exceed the scope of the injuries you suffered. For example, if you suffered only physical injuries and did not claim any mental distress or impairments, a request for a psychological exam might not be reasonable.
Unfortunately, some insurance adjusters will use this opportunity to request medical records that are outside of the scope of your injuries as a way to find something they can use against you. Your medical history is private, and you might feel uncomfortable disclosing it. Parts of your medical history might be embarrassing or not relevant at all to the present claim. If the insurance adjuster pushes you for medical records you do not feel comfortable sharing or believe it is an inappropriate request, this may be an improper settlement tactic.
Our lawyers may help you navigate this issue. You have the right to ask the adjuster to explain why they need the additional records. If you do not know whether the requested documents are necessary, contact one of our experienced attorneys.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
What if the Insurance Adjuster Requests a Medical Exam?
An insurance adjuster may request a medical examination if the claimant and the adjuster have differing opinions on the severity of an injury. The insurance adjuster may ask you if you are willing to be examined by a doctor, who is chosen by the insurance company. These doctors are supposed to be neutral, but they are specifically chosen and paid for by the insurance company. These doctors may also be chosen and paid for multiple times for various claims, establishing what could be a biased relationship that is not in your favor.
There are laws in place that determine the proper legal procedures for requesting a medical exam. You should not release your records or submit to a medical exam without consulting an attorney. Allow our attorneys to assist you and make sure you are fairly represented.
Property Damage Release
In an accident that involves cars, property damage will likely need to be assessed along with medical records. An insurance adjuster will be the one who can determine whether your car is totaled, or if it is not totaled, how much repair it will need. Most insurances will only pay for the necessary repairs, which may not cover everything you need.
Insurance companies will usually make a determination as to damages, especially if the vehicle is totaled. You may receive a settlement check along with a property damage release. Signing the release and cashing the check means that you agree with their total. After the check is cashed, you cannot negotiate for more damages. You should be sure the amount received is enough to cover your property damages before you sign.
Understand Your Rights Before Signing
Signing a release form with an insurance company right away may seem appealing because it means you might get paid sooner. However, signing the release means that you agree to not receive any additional compensation for the accident. Sometimes, insurance companies will offer a quick settlement to avoid calculating out future damages or future losses.
Carefully calculating your damages and what they could be in the future is important to make sure all of your injuries and damages are compensated. This is where having an experienced lawyer may benefit your case, because a lawyer may help you recover the biggest possible reward for your damages.
Once a release form is signed, the case is closed, and you cannot reopen it or renegotiate damages. Signing a release means you agree to the cost of damages listed and that you release the insurance company from future liability regarding the accident in question.
Why Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Having an attorney who knows how to communicate with insurance adjusters and is knowledgeable in accident claims will help take the stress off of you and ensure your rights are protected. An attorney can help you look over medical release forms, requests for medical examinations, and property release forms.
Signing release claims means that you are waiving legal rights and this could lead to mistakes that end up weakening your case. Once you have an attorney, he or she may communicate directly with the insurance company on your behalf to seek a settlement. Your attorney may also know what important evidence to collect or ask for to strengthen your claim and know how to protect your medical records from being unnecessarily disclosed.
What Happens if You Don’t Sign an Insurer’s Release Forms?
Some people may not know that you do not have to sign an insurer’s release forms. You may feel like you have to comply and sign any documents that are given to you, and the insurance company may make you feel even more pressured to sign. Most people do not know that you can deny signing the forms or ask for more time to review them.
The insurance company may try to rush you, and it is in their benefit if you sign the release forms early. Signing the release forms too early before you understand how much your case is worth will save the insurer money but put you at a disadvantage.
What if You Need the Money Now?
After an accident, you may be too injured to work, or your only vehicle may be totaled. You may have medical bills or car repair bills that are piling up and feel eager to accept a settlement right away. However, signing a release form is usually not the best decision.
Some insurance claims adjusters may prey on your vulnerability after an accident and pressure you to quickly settle your claim. You should wait until you know the full extent of your damages before settling, or else you may accept an insufficient amount of compensation.
It may be difficult to wait for an insurance payout after an injury, but you may be able to receive more compensation for your injuries if you wait and have an attorney handle the case for you.
Read More: Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers
Our Accident Attorneys MAY Help
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced personal injury lawyers have handled many cases involving accident victims. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to advise you about your case and seek the best possible outcome for your case.
If you are wondering whether you should sign a medical record or property damage release for an insurance company, call us at (800) 863-5312 for a free and confidential consultation with one of our accident lawyers. You will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.