The hits keep coming, don’t they? This is the third post on a series about how car insurance adjusters work to reduce your claim. The first was about how adjusters use time against you; the second, on ways they can get you to admit fault or partial fault even if you were the accident victim. Another way insurance adjusters can try to reduce their company’s liability for their insured customer is by using your own medical records against you.
Please remember that even if an adjuster sounds sympathetic and friendly, they are not on your side. You must pay close attention to their questions, and assume that they are looking for anything that can reduce your claim. Also, unless you are a personal injury lawyer who has many years experience working with complex car accident claims, there are probably laws and loopholes they know that you would have no way of knowing.
The adjuster is going to want your medical records, which makes sense, as they will request them so they know what they are paying. They’ll need a signed authorization from you to do so. This authorization can have some fine print that can devastate your accident claim. Perhaps there is authorization you wouldn’t expect, such as giving them the ability to request records unrelated to your accident. If, for example, you signed an authorization that allowed the adjuster to look at your complete medical record, this person would be privy to events going back years in your life.
Here’s an example of how this could damage your claim. Let’s say you were hit in downtown Bellingham and wrenched your back. You’ve missed work because you cannot comfortably do your job anymore, and will need many treatments to get you back to normal functionality. The driver who hit you was clearly at-fault, so it wouldn’t matter if they look at old records, right? But they do, and they find evidence that you saw a doctor for back pain when you were playing basketball – something that happened years ago and wasn’t a big deal at the time. But it’s in your record, and can be used against you now. The adjuster could come back and say your current pain is due to an old injury, and their client is not responsible for its cost. Even though it seems absurd, this can put a serious wrench in your claim.
Another way they could decrease your claim is to get you to agree to an Independent Medical Exam. This is a physical examination of your injuries by a medical professional. Sounds innocent enough again, doesn’t it? However, the reality is that this isn’t your doctor, or someone you chose – it is a doctor the insurance company has chosen and is paying. This person will have an obvious incentive to stack the deck against you in favor of the insurance company who signs the paycheck.