If you've filed an injury claim because of a
car accident, you should expect that the insurance company for the person who caused
your injury will ask to see your medical records. By law, they have a
right to ask for your medical records since they provide the only way
to evaluate your injury claim. Generally speaking, someone with a small
injury and a small amount of treatment should receive a settlement that
is smaller than someone with a very large injury and a lot of treatment.
Shortly after fiing an injury claim, the other driver's insurance company
likely will ask you to sign an authorization permitting them to obtain
your medical records directly from your doctors. I do not advise my clients
to sign these authorizations because they are over broad. In other words,
they go too far. Should the insurance company see the records of your
visit to the ER right after the accident? Sure. Should the insurance company
be able to go on a fishing expedition through your medical records to
see if you ever before complained of the type of pain the accident caused?
Probably not. However, if you sign the authorization, that's exactly
what they will do.
If you hurt your left shoulder in the accident, the insurance company has
a right to know if you have ever hurt your left shoulder before. In other
words, is the left shoulder pain you are feeling now caused by the accident
or caused by some pre-exixting condition? The answer to that question
typically will not be found in your primary care records, your OB/GYN
records, or your mental health records. But if you sign an authorization
that does not limit what kind of records the insurance company can obtain,
those records could end up in the insurance company's file to be used
against you in settling your case.
If your case cannot be settled and your must file a lawsuit to be fairly
compensated for your injury, the insurance company's lawyers will
subpoena your medical records. Typically, they will subpoena "any
and all" medical records, which likely will scoop up all kinds of
unrelated medical records which they have no right to obtain.
The California Constitution states that we all have a right to privacy
and that includes the right to medicla privacy. Sure, the insurance company
should be able to see medical records related to the accident, but not
If you have been injured in a car accident or other type of accident, not
knowning your rights can mean the difference between being treated fairly
and being taken advantage of. Know your rights. Feel free to
call my office anytime to discuss your rights.