The folks at Texas Watch have put together this great story on Texas’s medical malpractice reform.
Motor Vehicle Accidents: Do I have to provide a release of medical information to the insurance company?
We recently received an inquiry asking, “Do I have to provide a release of medical information to the insurance company?”
Generally, the answer is “no,” but for a more detailed answer, I need to know the type of case.
If you’re making a claim directly against the driver who caused the wreck, the answer is clearly “no.” In that situation, we would almost never advise our clients to sign a blank release giving the insurance company full access to all of your medical records. Instead, we’ll gather all of your medical records related to your wreck and forward them to the insurance company.
Now, once a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will typically subpoena records from medical providers who you saw as a result of the wreck. Additionally, if you have a history of a condition related to your injuries from the wreck, the insurance company might try and get your records from before the wreck. But even in those situations, we’ll try and insist on a reasonable limit on what they obtain.
If you’re making a claim against your uninsured or underinsured motorist carrier or with your personal injury protection carrier, then you have a contractual duty to cooperate with the company. If you don’t, you could be risking your benefits. But even in those situations, when the insurance company asks for a release, we’ll try and work with them to provide a limited release. For example, we might limit the release to those doctors who provided treatment from the wreck. And if the insurance company wants past medical records, we might limit them to five years before the wreck. The insurance companies will typically work with us to find some reasonable limits.
Again, there may be situations where you have a long-standing condition that makes things a little different, but for those most part, this is how we try and deal with requests for a medical release.
If you know me, you know I’m a huge University of Texas sports fan. Because of that, I’m a huge fan of the Longhorn Network. Usually, the stories just relate to my sports passion, but in light of David Ash’s retirement from football due to his repeated concussions, the LHN ran a great piece that talked with three former UT players about their battles with concussions.
Watching it, one thing that stood out to me was something that we see in our practice (and which the science backs up), and that is, once you have had a concussion (or multiple concussions), it takes a smaller impact to re-injure the brain. Additionally, with a history of concussions, the symptoms appear to get worse.
If you have any interest in head injuries, concussions or sports, I highly recommend the story below.
We represent a number of clients who have brain injuries, and I received this infographic the other day describing the causes of traumatic brain injuries. I thought it was brilliant, and I wanted to share it here.
This year, the Austin Police Department is helping remind us, and perhaps not the easy way. I heard a report this morning that for the next two weeks or so every Austin Police Department motorcycle officer would be deployed to school zones around the city.
Don’t have an unexpected meet-up with one of these officers. Obey the speed limits, stay off your cell phone, don’t pass buses that are loading or unloading children, and stay safe.
This is another question I recently received.
A person was injured in a car wreck, they submitted a demand letter, and tried to negotiate, but the insurance company was stonewalling them. What are they supposed to do?
There isn’t a good answer for someone in this situation. Insurance companies may engage in stonewalling tactics that are designed to get you to accept less than the full value of your claim.
When you hire us, and this happens, our response is to file suit. That’s the alternative and the hammer you can use to get a new adjuster, get a new perspective to the insurance company from a lawyer and to prove that you can enforce the claim.
But if you’re trying to represent yourself, you don’t have that option. As a result, the insurance company, knowing that you don’t have a real alternative, doesn’t have an incentive to pay the full value of your claim.
This type of conduct is one of the reasons that insurance company studies find that claimants who are represented by lawyers do substantially better overall than those who try to represent themselves.
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news to people in this situation.
CBS Boston ran a story about one of the Boston Marathon survivors. Titled “Marathon Bombing Survivor Struggles With ‘Invisible Injury’,” it describes what many of our brain injured clients have to deal with. If you or a loved one has suffered from a concussion or other brain injury, it’s worth a watch:
It’s not enough to have the life jacket. You need to make sure you have the right life jacket for your size, your activities, and the water conditions you might be encountering.
The Safe Boating Council has these guidelines:
Try It On
- Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
- Make sure the life jacket is properly zipped or buckled.
- Raise your arms straight up over your head while wearing your life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings, gently pulling up.
- If there is excess room above the openings and the life jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does NOT fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.
- It is extremely important that you choose a properly fitting life jacket.
- Life jackets that are too big will cause the flotation device to push up around your face, which could be dangerous.
- Life jackets that are too small will not be able to keep your body afloat.
- Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
- Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities.
- Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems.
- Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
I’m going to talk about statistics later in the week, but I wanted to start with the most important safety advice for boating: WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in almost three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2012 and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
I know when I was a kid and my dad lived on Lake Austin, I couldn’t wait to turn 14 so I wouldn’t have to wear a life jacket. Frankly, I was an idiot. Too many things can easily go wrong if you’re not wearing your life jacket. In most emergencies, you won’t have time to get life jackets out of storage and pass out to all your guests. Or heaven forbid you hit your head on something and get knocked unconscious. Wearing a life jacket in advance is the only way to protect you in those circumstances.
Don’t let your vanity cost you your life.
Over the course of the week, I’ll have a few posts detailing the dangers and safety measures related to safe boating. For today, I’ll give you the big overview of what you should do to make your trips out on our waterways just a little safer.
1. Avoid drinking and driving. This should go without saying, but a significant percentage of boating accidents involve alcohol. Even worse, being on the water magnifies the effects of alcohol. I’ve heard that one drink on the water is equal to four drinks on land. I’m not sure that’s completely accurate, but it’s probably close.
2. Use your lights. Austin Lake Police have indicated that one of the biggest risks of danger is night time collisions.
3. Wear your life vest. The law requires you to have one life jacket on the boat for each person. But if something goes wrong, you might not have the opportunity to grab a life jacket from storage. Be safe and wear it instead.
4. Look out for others. As the lake crowds increase, make sure you are cognizant of other skiiers, tubers and wakeboarders. And always remember that as you follow, they could fall in an instant. On the other hand, when you voluntarily stop to get in and out of the water, make sure that you are doing so in as safe a place as possible.