When a victim has sustained injuries in an accident that was caused by another party’s negligence – like a vehicle accident or premises liability incident – they usually are required to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company in order to obtain financial compensation for the losses their injuries have caused. Once the claim has been filed, it is assigned to an insurance adjuster who will investigate and then decide if the claim is valid and how much the claim is worth.
One of the most critical factors that a victim needs to remember throughout this entire process is that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company. Their priority is not the best interest of the victim, but it is how to make sure the insurance company pays out as little – if any – damages.
During the accident investigation, the insurance adjuster will likely request certain actions and documentation from the victim. While these requests may seem reasonable, there is some information that could actually harm a victim’s accident claim. One of the most damning can occur when the victim is asked to sign a medical records release authorization form. This form allows the insurance company access to the victim’s medical records directly from their medical providers.
While this may not seem like an issue to the victim – after all, they have been injured and their medical records will help prove that – the problem with these authorizations is that they are usually blanket waivers. This means the insurance company will have access to all the victim’s medical history, not just the records dealing with their accident injuries. This is something a victim never wants the insurance company to have.
By having all of a victim’s medical history, the insurance adjuster now has access to any information that could help them dispute the victim’s injury claim. For example, if the victim had any prior accidents or injuries that they received medical treatment for, the insurance adjuster will now have that information and can use it to deny or reduce the amount the victim should be entitled to.
Even if a victim has not medical history that can be used against them, there is a high probability that their medical record of the accident injury is incomplete, especially if it an injury that will take some time to heal and require ongoing medical treatment. And it is also not uncommon for the victim and their doctors to not fully know the extent of an accident injury right away. If the victim has signed an authorization form, then the medical records the insurance company receives may not yet contain the seriousness of the injury, the treatment required for the injury, and what the final prognosis of the injury. It is much better for an accident case to wait before providing medical information to the insurance adjuster until all this information has been determined by the victim’s medical providers.
Letting a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Help
If you have been in an accident and the insurance adjuster has contacted you to request you sign a medical records release form, tell them you will not be signing until you speak with your attorney. In fact, you should not even speak with the insurance adjuster until you have spoken with an accident attorney. Insurance adjusters are trained to manipulate conversations with accident victims to steer conversations that can hurt the victim’s case.
Having an attorney advocating for you means that your legal rights will be protected. Your attorney will handle all communication with the adjuster, as well as gather the evidence needed to help prove your case. Your attorney will make sure that the insurance company is provided with only the medical records which are pertinent to your case.
When you retain the services of a Virginia personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, you will also be hiring an attorney who is a skilled negotiator and will ensure that any settlement offer is a fair and just one. Our attorneys are also seasoned litigators and will not hesitate to proceed to trial if the insurance company drags their feet and refuses to negotiate a settlement in good faith.
If you have been injured, contact our office to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out how our Virginia personal injury firm can get you the financial justice you deserve.