Insurance Claims in Washington: Why You Should Avoid Signing a Release for Your Medical Records
February 12, 2020 – Matt Albrecht
Most personal injury claims are handled by large insurance companies. Whether you were hurt in a car crash, a slip and fall, or any other type of accident, there is a good chance that you will have to deal with an insurance adjuster at some point in the process.
Unfortunately, the big insurance companies simply are not on the side of the people. They are representing their own financial interests—seeking to resolve claims for the lowest amount possible. One of the strategies used by insurance companies to reduce financial compensation is digging through medical records to find adverse information.
It is for this reason that you should avoid signing a release for your medical records without first speaking to an experienced Spokane, WA insurance lawyer. Your lawyer will ensure that you are being treated fairly and that your interests are properly protected.
Why Insurance Companies Want to Dig Through Your Records
In Washington, injured victims are entitled to recover financial compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. Your medical records will form much of the basis of your claim for financial compensation.
Insurance companies want access to as many documents as they can possibly get their hands on. By combing through your entire medical history, they may be able to find something—usually evidence that indicates a previous injury or medical issue—that can be used to argue that compensation should be reduced.
There are other issues with giving insurers free rein over your medical records. For example, they may end up getting access to incomplete records. With only these documents in hand, insurance adjusters may be able to downplay the severity of your injuries and reduce your financial recovery.
Washington Law: You Only Need to Turn Over Relevant Medical Records
To be clear, insurance companies do have a right to access relevant records. After all, these records are an important form of evidence. Still, the key phrase is “relevant”—you only have to turn over records that are actually related to your accident and your injuries.
Medical records are sensitive documents that contain very important information—not only pertaining to actual injuries and treatment, but also identifying personal information such as a Social Security number. Under Washington law (RCW 70.02.060), there are strict rules and regulations regarding an insurer’s ability to obtain medical records directly from a healthcare provider. The statute is clear: Patients are entitled to basic confidentiality. The insurance company must respect your rights. Before authorizing any access to your medical records, be sure to speak to a lawyer.
Call Our Spokane, WA Insurance Dispute Attorneys for Immediate Assistance
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Washington insurance lawyers are skilled, aggressive advocates for injured victims and their families. We will stand up for you against the big insurance companies. If you have any questions about your medical records, we can help. To request a free review of your case, please do not hesitate to contact us today. From our office location in Spokane, we serve communities throughout Eastern Washington. Call (509) 495-1246.
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