When you’re considering a personal injury claim, you have a limited window of time before the other party’s insurance adjuster contacts you. Once they call you, you may be surprised at the questions they ask. They’re good at getting information out of people, so you may feel like cooperating—but what happens when they ask for access to your medical records?
Before you talk to the other party’s insurance company, you need to talk to a lawyer. Call Olmstead & Olmstead at 703-260-8752 to set up a consultation.
An Insurance Adjuster’s Role
Once you know what an insurance adjuster’s responsibilities are after their client causes an accident, it may be easier for you to say “no” to their requests. Insurance adjusters evaluate claims, determine liability, and negotiate settlements when their client is at fault.
Basically, the role of an insurance adjuster is to save their company money and protect them from lawsuits. It’s a careful balance; if they lowball too aggressively and refuse to negotiate, there’s a good chance the client will simply sue them. But if they give victims what they deserve right away, they will significantly cut into the company’s profit margins.
They operate in the middle of those two extremes, getting information they can use to diminish the value of your claim or put the blame on you. That’s where your health history comes into play.
How They Can Use Your Health History
Once an insurance adjuster gets their hands on your health history, they can essentially use it however they choose. On the one hand, this information can be useful for them as they assess your claim. It may give them valuable information about your injuries, your prognosis, and the types of treatment you’ll need.
Unfortunately, the chances are good that they won’t stop there. There are many other ways they can use your information to hurt your claim and support their choice to limit your compensation. They could:
- Minimize your injuries: If there is anything in your paperwork that can be interpreted against you, they will capitalize on it. Perhaps the doctor used the words “only” or “just” while describing your injuries; the insurance adjuster will pounce on that and use it as proof that you are exaggerating your injuries.
- Question the cause of your injuries: You know what caused your injuries, and it’s likely that your medical records are clear about the cause of your injuries. Again, that does not stop insurance adjusters from using any vague or ambiguous language for their benefit. If there’s anything they can interpret to mean that something else may have led to your injuries, they will use it to cast doubt on causation.
- Putting the blame on other injuries: The release you sign doesn’t just give them access to a limited set of medical records—it allows them to access your entire health history. If you have preexisting injuries or diagnoses, be ready to have them used against you. Even if your past injuries have nothing to do with your most recent ones, the insurance company will try to find a way to connect them in a way that benefits them.
- Reducing your settlement offer: The ultimate goal, of course, is to pay you as little as they can. If they’re really lucky, they’ll find enough to offer you nothing. In most cases, though, they just use this information to cut the amount they initially offer you.
What Information Do They Actually Need?
This isn’t to say that the insurance company doesn’t need your medical records. For them to understand the extent of your injuries, they really do need some proof of your injuries. But that doesn’t mean you should give them free access to your health history. Instead, consult with your personal injury attorney. They will take over communication on your behalf and ensure that the insurance company gets the information they need—and nothing more.
Fight for Compensation with Olmstead & Olmstead
If you have been injured and you’re not sure what your next step is, it’s time to talk to the team at Olmstead & Olmstead. Call us at 703-260-8752 or fill out our online contact form to have a team member contact you right away.