To Give Or Not To Give… An Insurance Company Your Medical Records?
It might seem benign and rather obvious to hand over your medical records to an insurance company handling your health or your compensation for injuries suffered in a car accident. Unfortunately, their request, while it must largely be followed, is hardly benign, as they will often seek to use these records against you during the personal injury claim process. This article explains:
- Why insurance companies want your medical records (hint: it is not a nice reason).
- What medical records do insurance companies have a right to look at and use?
- Three strategies you can put into place to fight back against an insurance company’s tactics.
Is It Normal For Insurance Companies To Ask For Medical Records?
While their intentions may not always be good, it is perfectly normal for insurance companies to request medical records. In fact, you will usually want to be proactive about turning those medical records over as they are how you prove your injuries.
Now, before a lawsuit is filed, you and your attorney still get to control what the defense gets to see. So if there is something in there that maybe is not as helpful or that could be taken out of context, you can hold those back.
Once litigation begins, however, you have a legal obligation to turn over everything that is requested as part of discovery. If the insurance company asks for all of your medical records, you now have to turn everything over, even if it is something that is not that favorable to you. Indeed, medical records are always fair game.
Do Insurance Companies Have The Right To Know About Your Past Medical Records?
Medical records are at the heart of every personal injury claim, and insurance companies need and have the right to review them. If you are claiming a loss of enjoyment from life or emotional pain and suffering, even your mental health is at stake in the claim, and thus, those records will be, too.
Because you present the issue of harm, either mental or physical, as being caused by the accident, the defense (and their insurance company) has a right to inquire about what you were like before, during, and after it. But that is not always a bad thing; sometimes, that can even be used to your advantage.
Imagine you are claiming a herniated disc in your neck and cervical lumbar spine. Prior medical records from a year ago may show you had no pain and had a healthy neck and spine. But now, you can show that you’ve got a spine that has herniations and all kinds of problems with it. This helps prove that the injuries are more likely than not to have been caused by the crash because a year ago you had a perfectly healthy spine.
That would be an example where we can use prior medical records to help prove causation in a crash. Thus, it is both routine and sensible to request prior medical records as they allow you to put into context any aggravations or pre-existing conditions.
What Strategies Can Be Used To Fight Insurance Company Defense Tactics?
The first and most important step when trying to beat insurance companies is preparation. You have got to be prepared and do your homework so that you can use and understand the records.
The second step is to listen more than you speak during negotiations. When you are negotiating, you want to find out what the defense’s position is. Once you do, you can understand their defenses. And if you can understand their defenses, then you can work to eliminate or embrace them.
Finally, you need to attack and keep attacking. The insurance companies have to know that you are not willing to give up. You must break through their resilience by being relentless and by attacking them where they are the weakest.
How Do We Turn The Tables On Insurance Companies?
In this case, insurance companies are often at their weakest when it comes to human suffering and emotions. Lay witnesses, for example, those friends and family who can talk about the human story, what has been taken, and what you have suffered, are extremely effective, and you can just keep them coming.
Insurance companies prefer to look at hard figures, spreadsheets, and numbers. Instead, you should focus on human losses. In every case, the arguments the insurance companies will use will call into question your honesty, truthfulness, work ethic, or the legitimacy of your injuries. By doing so, the defense has made it fair to introduce evidence and just about any positive fact in your entire life.
Lay witnesses can come in to discuss your pre-crash condition and compare it to the post-crash condition. As witness after witness comes in to add another piece of evidence to paint that before and after picture, the questions the jury has to ask themselves (and ask the defense experts) becomes, did they really fool all these people? Are you that good of an actor or actress? Did you put the last three years of your life on display in court just to try to ask for money? Are all these people part of a scheme to cheat the system? And obviously, the answer to that is no.
So, give your attorney a list of names and numbers so they can talk to coworkers, bosses, supervisors, family members, family, recreational friends, church friends, and sometimes even ex-spouses. The more, the better. They will be asked about your reputation for honesty, specific acts or stories about your honesty, good deeds, or titles and positions of trust. They might even be asked if you are a good worker and if you liked your job and career trajectory.
Most importantly, though, they will be asked about your characters, your life, and your activities before and after the crash. What you missed out because of the injuries and the symptoms caused by the crash. That is how the real story of what happened is told, not by doctors who see the patient for 10 or 15 minutes after reading medical reports from a year and a half ago. But rather by the people who experience the loss and what has been taken from your life.
Implementing these strategies, however, is not easy. That is why you need an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney at your side throughout the process to ensure the insurance companies do not get away with paying you a cent less than you deserve.
For more information on Using Medical Records In Personal Injury Claims, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 546-7608 today.