The Online Source for Personal
In this issue
- Should I Sign the
"Authorization for Release of Medical Records" Sent by the Adjuster?
- Can I Make Changes on the
Authorization Form Sent by the Adjuster During Personal Injury Claim
- Who Should Obtain the Records
- You or the Adjuster - During Personal Injury Claim Settlement
Settle it Yourself
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In this month’s issue, we will discuss Authorizations
for Release of Medical Records, sent out to you by the insurance adjuster.
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Publisher, Settle it Yourself Newsletter
Authorizations for Release of Medical Records
The ground rules for
release of medical records revolve around the desire of the insurance
adjuster to discover everything that she can about your past, versus your
desire to limit her exploration to information regarding the present
accident, plus any other recent (5 years or so) accidents or recent
treatments or injuries to the same areas of your body. The answer to
whether you should sign the "Authorization for Release of Medical Records"
sent by the insurance adjuster depends upon what records the authorization
Hopefully you will not sign a blanket authorization,
since that could allow the adjuster access to ALL of your records. It also
depends upon whether you or the adjuster is going to be in direct contact
with your doctors. We recommend that you maintain control—submitting bills
and treatment code sheets for payment—so then there is no reason whatsoever
to sign any authorization. The adjuster will get the records through you.
If she objects that you might be hiding something, you can simply have your
doctor prepare a brief letter to the effect he has reviewed your file and
found no mention of previous accidents (within 5 years) or of injury or
treatment of the same body parts.
You can limit the scope of the authorization in both
relevancy and time (e.g., “with respect to the accident of July 8, 2003”).
If you do decide to sign the release, you can make changes right on the
authorization form sent by the insurance adjuster. It is not written in
stone, although the adjuster would like you to think it is! Just don't ask
her permission in advance. There is no need to call and discuss any changes
with her. Make your changes on the form, in ink, and initial them. Simply
line through the printed sentence on the form and write your limiting
language between the lines. Keep a copy, of the form for your records
before returning it to her.
In obtaining your medical records, there are three
potential disadvantages of simply going along with the so-called “standard
practice” of insurance adjusters in obtaining your medical records. First,
it is more difficult to remain informed about the cost of your medical
bills and the descriptions of the services rendered and the progress of
your treatment as recorded by your doctor.
Second, if you signed an authorization with few or no
controls on what records can be obtained; there is a real risk that the
adjuster could go on a fishing expedition through your medical history.
Given the opportunity, an adjuster who is in control will try to get all of
your records, not just those relevant to the current claim.
Third, the adjuster is likely to establish her own
relationship with the staff of your doctor's office. You want her to remain
an anonymous participant, not the best buddy of the staff. Why? She could
take the opportunity to chat with them about you. That is not professional,
and may not be common, but it is known to happen. The conversation would
not be an interview—your doctor's staff would not participate in that—but
even one comment and a response or two could provide information about you,
your family and friends, your job, your attitude, your work, the financial
crunch you are experiencing and the stress in your life. Any little piece
of information on these topics is of great potential benefit to the
Remember, you can easily change the forms to suit your
needs. Or, if you are going to obtain all of the records yourself, you can
simply decline altogether, and refuse to sign the authorization. As much as
the insurance adjuster would have you believe it is your patriotic duty to
sign the medical authorization J,
rest in the knowledge that like so many other things, the “party line” from
her company is neither controlling nor in your best interests.
Inc. is a Washington corporation providing general educational information,
online, to personal injury victims throughout the United States on how to
manage their own personal injury claims through the settlement process -
from gathering the necessary information (evidence) to submitting claims
and demand letters through engaging in successful personal injury
settlement negotiations with insurance companies. Our online instructions
and self-help forms and letters are designed to make for easy insurance
claims settlements in the areas of auto accidents, pedestrian accidents,
dog bites, vicious animal bites, premises liability, and slip and fall
comments and suggestions are welcome! Tell us what topics you would like to
see discussed in this newsletter and we will do our best to bring you
current useful information. Write to us at: info@SettlementCentral.com