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Beware of the Medical Authorization Release

When you are injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you will be dealing with the at-fault party's insurance carrier. As a part of the claims process, the insurance company will send you a series of documents which will ask for your signature.

Before we continue, please pause for a moment and take note that insurance companies are for-profit companies that try to reduce claims as much as possible – the other driver's insurance company is not on your side. That being said, when you receive documents from the insurance company, included in the pile of paperwork will be a form called a "release" or "authorization" to release your medical records.

While you may automatically believe that signing this document would give the insurance company access to your medical records from the accident, it goes much further than that. If you were to sign this form without a personal injury attorney's advice, you'd be giving the insurance company access to all of your medical records. Why does this matter? Because, insurance companies can go to great lengths to minimize the value of plaintiffs' claims.

One way insurance companies reduce claims is by digging into a plaintiff's past medical records looking for "pre-existing injuries" that can be used to reduce the value of the claim. For example, let's say that "John" hurt his back when he fell off a roof on a construction job six months before a car accident. Now, after the car accident John is claiming that he has back pain. The insurance company can argue that John's back injury existed before the accident and therefore, John's claim should be reduced by thousands.

Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine

Under what's called the "eggshell plaintiff doctrine," a plaintiff's pre-existing injuries are not supposed to reduce their personal injury claims. Attorneys know that, and insurance companies should be aware of the rule; however, most plaintiffs don't know it. Thus, insurance companies will try to convince plaintiffs that they deserve less compensation because of their pre-existing injuries.

When people represent themselves, they'll unwittingly fall into this trap and accept less compensation than they truly deserve. If the insurance company is asking you to sign a medical authorization or release, we do not recommend signing any such document without speaking with a Columbia SC personal injury attorney first.

To learn more about filing a claim and protecting your rights in the claims process, contact our firm for a free consultation. We're here to answer all of your questions!