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Do I Need to Release My Medical Records in a Workers' Comp Claim?

If you’re an employee who has suffered an injury at work, you’re under enough stress as it is. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation claim process probably won’t make things easier unless you hire an attorney to help you out.

Your primary point of contact for your claim will be the claims adjuster for your employer’s insurance company. This individual will investigate your claim, often by asking you a series of questions about the accident, your injuries, etc. Keep in mind that the adjuster’s bias is to look for information that can be used against you, so always be careful with what you say to an adjuster!

You should be especially careful when you are presented with a bunch of paperwork that will inevitably include a medical records release form. Review this document as thoroughly as possible before signing – you may even want to have an attorney look it over to make sure that you understand exactly what you would be signing.

What is a Medical Records Release Form?

A medical records release form is a document that authorizes your doctor(s) to release medical records concerning your injury directly to your employer’s insurance company and often your employer. You may be asked to provide the information for every doctor or medical practitioner you’ve seen within a span of time prior to your accident. These individuals can include physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, etc.

What Kind of Information Is the Insurance Company Searching For?

Any information that’s relevant to your claim. The keyword here is “relevant” because your employer is limited against snooping into irrelevant parts of your medical history that have no bearing on the injury that took place.

For example: If your workers’ compensation claim involves a neck injury, records concerning your treatment for skin cancer would likely be irrelevant. Your dental and mental health records are probably also irrelevant. Surgical and physical therapy records about a herniated disc in your spine from a car accident, however, would likely be relevant to your neck injury claim.

Why Does the Insurance Company Need This Information?

One of the main reasons why the insurance company wants medical records relevant to your injury is to protect themselves against fraud. They’re worried about employees filing false claims, so looking into an employee’s medical history is one way to protect themselves against fraud.

Few adjusters would admit it outright, but they’re also looking to protect their companies’ revenues by finding reasons to limit payouts or deny claims. An insurance company is a business, after all, and too many payouts are bad for their business.

Am I Required to Release My Medical Records?

If you wish to pursue a workers’ compensation claim in California, yes, you must release your medical records. Keep in mind, though, that only those that would be relevant to your claim need to be released to the insurance company. Should they insist on obtaining the information, you don’t think is relevant to your claim, you can hire an attorney to help you assert your rights.

Contact us at Smolich & Smolich, and get a free initial consultation.

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