When you begin to work with an attorney on a claim because you were injured in a car accident, you might find yourself dealing with a lot of paperwork. Your lawyer or his or her staff will probably help you complete the paperwork, but it's a good idea for you to know what you are signing and why it is necessary.
One form that your lawyer might ask you to sign is called a medical records release form. This form lets your attorney receive medical records from your doctor or other medical providers.
The reason your lawyer might want to receive medical records is because they are usually a big component of evidence in a personal injury case. First, if you are trying to recovery costs for medical bills, you might have to show that you actually received those medical treatments. At the very least, your attorney will probably need copies of the associated bills.
Second, your attorney might have to prove that you did, in fact, sustain the injuries you are claiming. Medical records can often go a long way in showing those injuries are present. Finally, some defendants might claim that you already had the injuries you are claiming were caused in a car accident. Medical records can help prove that isn't the case.
But why do you have to sign a release? The reason is that medical providers work under strict privacy rules. They cannot release any of your records without your permission. Signing a release lets your attorney's office chase your medical records with various providers so you don't have to personally collect them and bring them to your lawyer.
Source: FindLaw, "Medical Records Release Form," accessed June 03, 2016