Why Is The Insurance Company Requesting The Past 5 Years Of My Medical Records?

Insurance companies sometimes ask you to sign a blanket medical authorization after a car wreck so that they can obtain your medical records.  Should you sign those forms?  Why are they looking to get medicals that far back, and even prior to the accident?   

What Do My Past Medical Records Have To Do With My Accident?:

In big accident cases, the at-fault car insurance company (or your UM insurer) may ask you for medical records from before your accident.  There is no legal limit on what they can request, but most companies may request five years of past records. 

The goal of the insurance company in obtaining past records is so that they can compare those records to your current (post-accident) injuries and complaints.  For instance, if you are claiming low back injuries from a car wreck, the insurance company wants to see if you had any prior low back injuries or complaints documented in past medical records.  If you do, they will compare those past complaints to your current condition.  Their goal is to downplay your current injuries or blame them altogether on an unrelated incident, prior to the accident in question. 

Does The Insurance Company Have The Right To Get My Medical Records?:

In Louisiana, if a lawsuit has not yet been filed for an accident, the at-fault insurance company does not have the right to get your medical records without your permission, usually in the form of a medical records release.  This is a double-edged sword, as failing to comply with the insurance company’s request may lead to their outright denial of your claim.  The best thing to do is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can weight the pros and cons of your individual situation.

It is important to note that you may have a different set of responsibilities when dealing with your own insurance company under a UM (Uninsured/underinsured motorist) claim.  That’s because the relationship you have with your own insurance company is contractual and you must adhere to the rules set out in your insurance policy, including working with them to explore claims. 

Do The Rules Change If I File Suit?:

Once a lawsuit is filed on a car accident case, the rules on obtaining past medical records change.  After a suit is filed, the at-fault insurance company has the right to conduct discovery, which includes exploring your medical history as it relates to your claims. 

In a lawsuit, an insurance company will typically request your medical authorization so that they can obtain pertinent medical records.  Sometimes, they will ask for medical records prior to the accident date, again trying to prove that your injuries were pre-existing and unrelated to the accident at issue. 

The rule during discovery is generally that the insurance company has the right to collect information which may lead to admissible evidence at trial.  This is very broad.  However, it is not without its limitations.  At Flattmann Law, we protect our clients from overly broad requests into their past medical treatment, especially when past treatment is completely unrelated to their current complaints.  For instance, we might object to a request for 10 years of our client’s past psychological treatment notes if their current claims have nothing to do with psychological injuries. 

Again, whether or not the insurance company has the right to request past medical records and the extent of their requests can be complicated and are individual to every case.  It can be extremely beneficial to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss these issues before making any decisions regarding the release of medical information. 

Do You Have Questions About An Insurance Company's Request For Medical Records After An Accident?

If you have been injured in a car wreck and have questions about an insurance company's request for medical records after an accident, contact us online or call our Covington office directly at 985.590.6182 to schedule your free consultation today. Flattmann Law serves clients on the Northshore, including Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom, Madisonville, Goodbee, Hammond, Lacombe, Pearl River, and Slidell.

Grady Flattmann
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Local Covington, Louisiana attorney focusing 100% on personal injury matters.