“I’ve never been in an accident before. I didn’t know”. This refrain is often heard by lawyers who specialize in helping people injured in auto accidents. It is sometimes heard after the lawyer finds out the client signed a comprehensive medical release sent to them by the insurance company representing the guilty driver. Insurance companies train their adjusters to make immediate contact after an accident. Often before the injured party has called a lawyer or has any idea about their rights. Injury victims are told signing the release is “routine” and the insurance company is legally entitled to this information. If they face reluctance, they pressure the injured person by inferring they must have something to hide. Few lawyers who handle injury claims ever allow a client to sign a medical release. The reason is obvious. Signing a release gives the insurance company extensive rights to obtain all of your past medical records and even talk with your doctor without you being present. By signing a release you may be allowing them access to medical information that is irrelevant, embarrassing and confidential by law. If a court suit is filed medical records regarding your treatment from the accident usually must be provided. However, records concerning unrelated medical care are not. Personal conferences with your doctor are not allowed without you or your lawyer being present and then only if the interview is conducted under strict rules as to what can be asked. Signing a full release for the insurance company is almost always a bad idea and should be avoided.
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