It's to your benefit to speak to a personal injury lawyer before talking to an insurance company -- even your own -- following a car accident. Keep in mind the job of an insurance company is to do what's best for the company, not you.
If you're confused about how to proceed, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine if the settlement an insurance company offers is fair and will cover your losses. An auto accident can cost you in medical expenses, damages for pain and suffering, compensation for time lost from work, and other related expenses. Since personal injury cases often become complicated, a lawyer can guide you in what information you should and should not provide to third-party representatives.
What Information 'Not' to Give the Other Side:
If an insurance adjuster from the company of the other party involved in the accident contacts you, don't sign a statement or even give an oral or recorded statement before talking to your lawyer. You also shouldn't talk directly to the attorney representing the other side.
Have your lawyer present whenever you talk to anyone concerning the accident or your injuries. That includes your own insurance company.
Don't give the other side access to your medical records. However, if you file a lawsuit and the case eventually goes to court, the court may allow a third party to obtain medical records relevant to the litigation. Otherwise, unless your lawyer tells you it's okay, you don't have to sign a medical release for a third-party to get medical records directly from your doctors or the hospital.
Let your attorney handle any requests for written documentation. Your lawyer knows what information to provide. But if you go ahead and offer information without getting a lawyer's advice, you could hurt your case. The other party's insurance company or attorney may use information you give voluntarily to pressure you into accepting a lower settlement.
If you are involved in an auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may have to file a claim with your own insurance company. When your insurer asks you to sign a release for information, give all signed releases to your attorney to forward to the applicable parties.
What Information to Give Your Insurer:
If you are claiming loss of income related to your injuries, your insurance company will ask you to sign an authorization for the release of employment and income records from your employer. Let your attorney request any documentation your insurer needs.
Your insurer also will ask you to sign an authorization form for the release of your medical records.
When you sign the release:
Allow the insurance company to get medical records relating only to medical treatment for injuries you received in the accident. On the authorization, indicate the dates of treatment for which the insurer may obtain medical information. Do not allow the insurance company access to medical records dated before the time of the accident. You also can indicate the specific records you want the provider to release.
If the company requests an independent medical examination, don't agree to a comprehensive physical exam. Agree only to an examination for the injuries you are claiming from the accident. Then, get it it writing. Again, don't provide information or sign any releases without first consulting with your personal injury lawyer.