If you are injured in a South Dakota vehicle accident caused by someone else, you may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages: medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. In order to verify your treatment and expenses, the insurance company needs to see medical records related to your current injuries, but the insurer does not have the right to see all of your medical records.
What the Insurer Does and Does Not Need to See
If you’ve hurt your back or suffered head trauma in a car wreck, for example, the insurer has a right to see:
- Your doctor’s diagnosis
- X-rays, MRIs, or results of other diagnostic tests related to your current back or head injury
- Documentation of the treatment you’ve received to date for this injury and care you’ll require in the future
The insurer does not need to see records related to the facts that you:
- Threw your back out of alignment while lifting a couch and received chiropractic treatment five years ago
- Suffered a concussion playing high-school sports when you were a teenager
Nonetheless, the insurer may contact you and ask you to sign a blanket medical release form granting access to all your past medical records. If you sign, the insurer will search those records for pre-existing injuries or conditions on which it can blame your current injuries in order to deny your claim and save money, so you should not sign a blanket medical release form granting access to all medical records. An experienced attorney can assist you in determining what to share and what to keep private.
Independent Medical Examination (IME)
If you refuse to sign a blanket medical release, the insurance company may require you to have an independent medical examination (IME) performed by a doctor on its list of certified physicians. The doctor’s findings could be affected by the fact that the insurer is paying for the exam and will probably pay the doctor for other exams in the future.
For these reasons, the findings of the IME might support the insurer’s denial of your claim. If you’re instructed to undergo an IME, you should consult an attorney immediately to help you proceed without endangering your right to fair compensation.
Have You Been Injured in a South Dakota Car Crash?
An experienced car accident lawyer can be sure you release only necessary medical records that will not jeopardize your claim. Contact us online or call us at 605-644-5003 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout South Dakota and northwest Iowa. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.