Suppose you were recently injured in a car accident in New Jersey. Soon, you can expect to receive paperwork in the mail from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Included in these documents is a paper titled “release” or “authorization,” and it will have a spot for your signature. What does this form do, and should you sign it?
This authorization or release is commonly called a Medical Authorization Release. By signing this form, you are giving the at-fault driver’s insurance company direct access to your medical records – your past and present medical records. It may seem innocent enough, but in reality, that is not typically the case.
Should you sign the release? We do not recommend that you sign anything, especially the Medical Authorization Release, from the insurance company until after you speak with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
Why Insurance Companies Look at Past Medical Records
During the insurance claims process, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not your friend. Insurance companies are for-profit, meaning, they’re in the business of making money. Hence, they do everything they can to devalue people’s claims. One way insurance companies do this is by digging into plaintiffs’ medical histories to find “pre-existing” injuries that can help them reduce claims.
For example, let’s say that two years prior, you had a back injury at work and you sought medical attention for it. After a car accident that recently occurred, you’re complaining that your back and neck hurt. The insurance company could argue that your back injury was pre-existing and was not caused by the accident and therefore, your claim should be reduced.
Our advice is to NOT sign anything from the at-fault driver’s insurance company without speaking with one of our personal injury lawyers first. While you will need to sign documents from the insurance company at some point, it’s better not to sign legal documents blindly and without an attorney’s advice.
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