After a car accident, you’ll be confronted with many situations that may be unfamiliar and even intimidating – especially since your money and health will be involved. In this article, we’ll walk you through one of those potential situations: whether or not to sign a medical release form from the other driver’s or your insurance company.
What is a Medical Release Form?
If you have been in an auto accident and you have been injured, one or more of the insurance companies involved may send you a medical release form in the mail. They will suggest that they need to get your medical records to evaluate your claim.
Medical release forms aren’t inherently suspicious. Because of privacy laws in most states, medical release forms are necessary to prevent unauthorized third parties from accessing your private medical history. By signing a medical release form of any kind, you are authorizing the party who provided the form to view your medical records. Sometimes – as we’ll cover later in this article – this is an innocent and/or unavoidable step in a larger process.
However, if you’ve been in an accident where another driver is at fault and it is the other driver’s insurance company sending you the medical release, you should think twice before signing it.
Why You Shouldn’t Sign that Auto Insurance Release Form
The at-fault driver’s insurance company is your adversary, and if you sign an open-ended medical release, that insurance company can rummage through your personal and private medical records far beyond those just from the accident.
Instead, it is a much better practice to have the appropriate records sent to the adverse insurance company by your attorney at the appropriate time.
What if the Auto Insurance Release Form is from My Insurer?
You may be sent a medical release from your own automobile insurance company to assist in your policy paying your medical bills. You do have to sign a medical release from your own auto insurance company to get your medical bills paid.
Oregon has no-fault coverage called “Personal Injury Protection” or “PIP” on all private auto policies. Your company pays your medical bills up to the limit of the coverage and then your company is repaid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This should not affect your insurance rates. It is preferable to have your company pay the bills.
If your medical bills exceed the medical coverage under your auto insurance policy, then your health insurance carrier becomes next in line to pay the medical bills. If your injuries were caused by an at-fault driver, your company and your health insurance company eventually should be reimbursed from any settlement of your claim. This can be a complicated process because there are many circumstances in which a full reimbursement of the medical bills paid on your behalf does not have to occur. This can make a substantial difference in the final result when your claim is resolved.
Your Oregon auto insurance policy has a minimum of $15,000 in medical coverage, with coverage for one year from the date of the accident. You may have more coverage if you paid for additional coverage. The goal of the case is to make sure your medical bills are paid up to the limits even if you are at fault for the accident.
Call with Questions
Auto accidents can have complex legal and financial consequences, and an auto insurance release form is just one example of the challenges you might face in trying to collect damages on an injury caused by another driver. Contact Nelson MacNeil Rayfield today and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.