If you have been injured in a car accident, then it is likely you have received documents from an insurance company, such as an “authorization” or a “release.” Keep in mind that the document forms used by insurance companies are the product of countless insurance defense lawyers writing and rewriting documents to better benefit their clients – the insurance companies. No matter how sophisticated you may be, if you don’t the experience of daily exposure to some of the more insidious insurance tricks, you are at a disadvantage. Be smart and if an insurance company asks you to sign anything – Don’t. Call and get our advice first. We’ll give you our opinion for free and it will only take a minute.
Don’t Give the Insurance Company Authorization to Your Medical Records
Insurance Companies often send “authorizations” to people who have been injured in a car accident. These “authorizations” are in fact HIPPA medical record releases that allow insurance companies to get any and all of your medical records and possibly even psychological records.
In one particularly egregious situation we had a client who was pregnant at the time of her accident. She signed an authorization before she was represented by us and the insurance company used the authorization to obtain all of her medical records – including hers and her newborn baby’s birth records. Many people ask – why are insurance companies entitled to my medical records that are completely unrelated to this accident? The answer is – they aren’t. In fact, unless you are in litigation, they are entitled to only the records to which you decide to give them access. At the Gruenloh Law Firm we don’t give insurance companies authorizations. Not only is that a “close your eyes and hope for the best approach” – it’s just lazy. We obtain only the relevant records and provide the insurance companies with only the relevant records. While you must give up some privacy in making a claim, there are limits. Imagine an insurance company using a 15 year old record (which they should not have been given access to from the beginning) to deny your injury claim. It happens every day.
Don’t Sign a Release Without Advice
A release agreement is a form of a contract giving up certain rights and claims in exchange for compensation for your injury. In plain language, a release is the document that the insurance company wants you to sign so they end your claim. There are many types of releases, including the release of all liability and claims, a property damage release and what’s referred to as a covenant not to execute. All of these releases are generally provided as consideration for payments made by the insurance company. Keep in mind – insurance companies want releases and they will pay money for them. The important thing is that you release only what you intended to release.
As with authorizations, insurance companies almost always draft releases that give them very broad rights. So while you may be led to believe that you are only giving up certain claims, you may find after signing that you have in fact ended your entire claim. Many people sign releases without fully understanding the terms and consequences. We often speak with people who were pressured into taking quick, easy money and who signed a release without thinking about injuries that might worsen or manifest in the future from the accident. If you
You’ve only got one shot at obtaining a fair settlement for your loss. Signing a release has significant legal consequences and it is always advisable to get an attorney’s opinion before doing so. Call us and let us help you level the playing field. We wont charge you for our opinion and it will only take a minute.