Should You Sign a Medical Record Release Authorization After an Accident?

After being injured in an accident it is virtually certain that you will find yourself interacting with an insurance adjuster – either one from your own insurance company or one that is representing the other party. Insurance adjusters will contact you to find out what happened in the accident and to get information to evaluate the nature and scope of your injuries. A question that we frequently hear from accident victims is whether it is a good idea to sign a medical record release authorization when asked to do so by an insurance adjuster. In our view – explained in more detail below: do not sign ANY papers that an insurance company has asked you to sign unless you have talked to an attorney, and they advise you it is okay to do so.


Medical ethics rules, state laws, and a well-known federal law called HIPAA all require medical records to remain confidential unless one of any small number of exceptions applies, or unless a patient authorizes their release. The problem with signing a medical record release authorization following an accident is that it may give an insurance adjuster blanket access to all your medical history – including medical records that have no connection to your accident. Simply put, signing a medical record release authorization can force you to expose your entire medical history, giving others access to sensitive personal information that you would rather keep private.

Claim Value

An insurance adjuster is trained and incentivized to minimize the amount of money you get paid. They have many strategies at their disposal designed to lure you into providing them information that can weaken the value or even validity of your insurance claim. Asking you to sign a medical records release authorization is a powerful tactic that an insurance adjuster can use to probe deeply into your medical history for information that could prove damaging to your prospects for compensation.

Should You Sign a Medical Record Release Authorization After an Accident?

A common example of why signing a medical record release authorization is usually a bad idea is that it may reveal pre-existing medical conditions that insurance companies will try to use against you to suggest your problems are related to those pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies are highly reluctant to pay money to a person with pre-existing conditions, whether those pre-existing medical issues are connected to the claimed injury or not. If you sign a blanket medical record release authorization for an insurance company, the insurance adjuster will comb through your records for any pre-existing injuries or pain complaints, no matter how minimal or innocuous. Their goal is to find anything that would suggest your current claimed injuries are connected to past medical problems.

Signing a medical record release authorization can also adversely affect your claim value even in the absence of pre-existing conditions. An insurance adjuster will likely want access to your medical records early in the claim process, possibly before you or your doctor is able to know the full extent of your injuries. Releasing your medical records under this scenario allows the insurance adjuster to prematurely evaluate your claim using incomplete information, which could lead to a lower offer of compensation from the insurance company.

An Exception When It’s Your Own Insurance Company

The general rule that you should never sign a medical record release authorization has an important exception, and that’s when you’re asked to sign one by your own insurance company. Your insurance policy will likely have a cooperation clause that requires you to help your own insurance company evaluate claims, such as Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims, by providing claim-related information including medical record releases and recorded statements. You should of course read your insurance policy to know what it requires you to do after an accident. And when possible, you should always try to talk to a lawyer before signing any documents, even if requested by your own insurance company.

Contact Whalen Injury Lawyers

Speaking with an insurance adjuster is one of many stressful situations that can arise after being injured in an accident. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the injury claim process on your own. The lawyers at Whalen Injury Lawyers exclusively represent plaintiffs in a wide range of personal injury matters – from auto accidents and dog bites to wrongful death claims and product liability lawsuits.

To schedule a free consultation and speak with a lawyer at Whalen Injury Lawyers, either submit this online form or call us at 720-307-2666

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