Should You Sign a Medical Release?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may try to handle the insurance claim yourself. This makes perfect sense if your injuries are not severe or your medical treatment is minimal. However, what often happens is that the adjuster will ask you to sign a medical release, handing over your medical records to the insurance company. Is this a smart idea? When considering whether to send a medical release to an insurance adjuster following a car accident, there are several key factors to consider. This decision can significantly impact your insurance claim and potential settlement. Here’s a breakdown of the considerations:

Understanding Medical Release Forms

Your medical information is protected by a federal privacy law called HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was signed in 1996, and prevents people or agencies from accessing your personal medical information without your permission. The “permission slip” for medical records is called a “release” or sometimes just referred to as the “HIPAA Authorization.” When you sign one of these, you are stating (1) Who can request medical information; (2) What informatoon they can request; and (3) When the permission expires.

In a car accident setting, insurance adjusters need your medical information to evaluate your claim. The medical records and bills are how you prove what your injuries were and how severe your injuries were. The adjuster cannot make a settlement offer without the medical records and bills in the file. However, there are limitations that should be put in place to ensure the adjuster doesn’t access more than they are entitled to. If you don’t want to provide a medical release, you can request your records and bills yourself, and send them to the adjuster. This is preferred in order to maintain privacy.

Pros of Providing a Medical Release

It can speed up the claim process, as the adjuster gets direct access to necessary medical information. Tracking down your own medical records takes time. Odds are you have already spent a good amount of time going to medical appointments, getting your car fixed, and sitting on hold with the insurance. Spending even more time calling doctors for records can cause you more stress and drag out your claim. If your treatment was simple or you don’t have significant heath issues outside of your injuries, signing the release might make more sense.

Cons of Providing a Medical Release

The biggest downside of signing a release is the loss of privacy. If you don’t read them carefully, these forms can sometimes give insurers access to your entire medical history, not just records related to the accident. The adjuster is only entitled to information related to your injuries – not your entire history. Often the adjusters will send blank forms for you to sign, which allows them to fill in the blanks for any provider they choose. If you do sign a release, make sure it is very specific – set out the particular provider, date range, and expiration date.

There’s a risk that the insurance company may use your past medical history to argue that your current injuries are not related to the accident. If you have medical history that might open yourself up to this kind of response from an adjuster, it’s best to talk with a lawyer about how to handle your claim.

Important Considerations

Before signing any release, it’s advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney. Attorneys have experience in the many excuses insurance adjsuters make. We know what kinds of questions to ask and how to anticipate possible problems down the road. Unless your treatment is very simple, talk with an attorney before signing anything from the insurance company.

You can provide a release that is limited in scope, focusing only on records related to the accident. This is all the adjuster is entitled to. If they try to convince you otherwise, you should involve an attorney. There’s a good chance the insurance company is trying to take advantage of you if this happens. Know that you are not obligated to immediately provide a release; you can take time to understand its implications. You have 3 years to settle your claim or file a lawsuit. It’s ok to take some time to carefully read the documents or talk with an attorney.

The Role of Insurance Adjusters

Remember, insurance adjusters work for the insurance company and their primary aim is to minimize the company’s payout. They can and will use everything they can against you. That’s where a personal injury attorney can help – you have someone on your side who understands how the insurance game is played.

Alternatives to Full Release

Instead of a full release, you might consider providing specific documents that are relevant to the accident. Or you can request the records and bills from the doctor yourself. Since they’re your medical records, you are entitled to them. No doctor or hospital can say that you can’t have your medical records.

If your case involves psychological injuries and you treated with a therapist, a summary or letter from your doctor regarding the accident-related injuries can be a compromise. You are not legally obligated to provide complete mental health records in order to pursue a claim for psychological injuries.


Deciding whether to provide a medical release to an insurance adjuster after a car accident is a nuanced decision. Balancing the need for a prompt and fair settlement with the protection of your privacy and rights is key. Always consider consulting with a legal professional to guide you through this process and help you make the best decision for your situation. If you have been injured in a car accident and need help, consultations are free. Contact us any time.

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