Dealing With The Insurance Company After A Car Accident
If you have been injured in an accident — say, a car accident — and the other driver was at fault, you should expect for the other driver’s insurance company to contact you soon.
Contact From The Insurance Company
The insurance company may contact you by phone or by mail initially. If the adjuster contacts you by phone, please remember that the adjuster is not your friend. Insurance companies make money by taking in all premiums and paying out as little as possible on claims. This adjuster works for the insurance company. So, no matter how friendly and likable he is, remember that he is not your friend. He is there to help his own family — not yours.
The adjuster will tell you his phone number and other contact information. Also, he will tell you your claim number. The adjuster handles hundreds of injury claims, and therefore, needs your claim number to identify the claim in the company’s extensive system.
If the adjuster contacts you by mail, please keep any and all papers in a file for yourself, and for your attorney, should you decide to use one.
The HIPAA Release Form
Ultimately, the adjuster will send you a form — a HIPAA release — that makes many people contact an attorney for the first time after the accident or injury. For the first time, the adjuster is asking you to sign a piece of paper, a legal document, which raises alarms for most people, because 1. they don’t understand the document, and 2. they are afraid of signing away their legal rights.
Typically, the form is a HIPAA release. This document, if you sign it, would allow the insurance adjuster to obtain your medical records. Please be advised that, generally speaking, your medical records are private. What happens between you and your doctor is nobody’s business, and federal law protects your privacy.
Our experienced accident attorneys advise against signing any HIPAA release that the insurance company sends you. If the insurance adjuster really wants your records, you should get them yourself from your doctors, and send them to the adjuster, in order to protect your privacy. You don’t want the insurance company to have a blanket release for all of your medical records.
However, you should understand, that if you are in an accident, your medical records are indeed part of your case. The insurance adjuster wants to evaluate your claim and cannot do this without seeing your medical records, to determine whether the records substantiate your injury claim. Thus, the suggestion above to get your records yourself and send them to the insurance company is a good one, in order to get the adjuster the information he needs about your accident claim, but at the same time, protect your privacy.
Another option is to get an attorney and have your attorney send the insurance company the relevant records. Your injury attorney will have you sign the same release when and if you get one, because your attorney needs to evaluate your injuries as well. Moreover, your accident attorney will send those records on to the adjuster with a demand letter, once he has all of the records that he needs.
What Should You Do, If You Are Not Comfortable?
If you are not comfortable with signing a document that the insurance company has sent you, you should contact an experienced injury attorney for advice. Please call our car accident attorney for a FREE consultation, so that we can advise you of your rights before you sign anything that the insurance company sends you after an accident or injury.