Car accidents – even minor ones – can result in serious injuries that may permanently threaten your health and keep you from doing the things you once enjoyed. Anytime you suffer car accident injuries, it is important to get prompt medical care and to follow up on any recommendations your doctor makes.
At Klein Lawyers, LLP, our Guide to an ICBC Settlement helps you through the steps you need to take in the aftermath of an accident to ensure your injuries will be covered through ICBC.
As the Guide explains, your ICBC adjuster may ask you to sign a medical records authorization form so the adjuster can get information about your injuries and prognosis and the treatments that your doctor has prescribed for your recovery.
Before giving consent to release your medical records, it is important to understand the potential motives ICBC has for making this request as well as the impact giving your consent could have on your car accident claim.
How ICBC Works
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) provides automobile insurance coverage that will pay for your medical care and treatment costs in the aftermath of a car accident.
As part of the ICBC claims process, you are required to report your injuries to ICBC, which will assign a claims adjuster to your case. Your adjuster will request a statement from you as to the details of your accident and the types of injuries you sustained.
You may still be in shock as a result of your accident. It will be vitally important to consider the types of statements you make to your adjuster about the cause of the accident and the injuries you have suffered.
Many people mistakenly operate under the assumption that ICBC is on their side and will automatically pay the maximum amount that the person’s claim is worth. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
ICBC is a business that handles many claims. ICBC’s top priority is to save administrative costs by settling claims as quickly as possible and paying the least amount possible.
How ICBC Obtains Medical Information
According to a report on ICBC medical billing in the British Columbia Medical Journal (BCMJ), ICBC is authorized by law to speak to your doctor about your injuries and the medical care you are receiving for them when it handles your car accident claim.
Under The Insurance (Vehicle) Act, it is mandatory for any doctor, nurse, hospital or other type of medical provider that diagnoses or treats you for your accident-related injuries to provide the following information to ICBC:
- A report of your injuries
- The official diagnosis of your condition
- The prognosis for your recovery
- The treatment plan prescribed for your injuries.
According to the BCMJ, this information is generally provided via a CL19 Medical Report, which is a two-page document your physician fills out and returns to ICBC.
This report also includes information on pre-existing and co-existing conditions you may be suffering from which could potentially affect or aggravate your injuries, treatment or recovery time.
Your doctor is mandated to fill out this CL19 form, regardless of whether you signed a medical records authorization. ICBC is also authorized to discuss your treatment by phone with your physician, to clarify any issues or to answer any questions.
According to a BCMJ report on medical authorizations, a patient-signed medical release authorization form – though not required – may be requested to provide additional information on the patient’s health and background, which could be relevant when it comes to settling a claim.
Potential Problems with Signing Medical Authorization and Consent Forms
Other than the information provided through the CL19 medical report, ICBC does not have the authorization to gather information about your prior medical history and any of your prior injuries, illnesses or conditions which are unrelated to your accident claim.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides legal protections to consumers concerning the collection or retention of personal information by any public body, including ICBC.
Under this Act, the information provided through the CL19 form is pertinent to ICBC in terms of paying for your medical care or settling your claim after a car accident. However, other types of personal information or past medical history can only be accessed through a medical authorization and consent form, signed by the patient in question.
According to the BCMJ, ICBC often requests that a patient sign a medical authorization and consent form immediately following an accident and prior to getting information from his or her physician through the CL19.
This authorization gives ICBC the right to view all prior medical files and records as well as to view prescription medication history for the patient. Your medical history could provide information that is potentially embarrassing and damaging to your claim, particularly if it reveals:
- A history of psychiatric care or mental health issues
- The presence of drug or alcohol problems
- A history of claiming injuries or illnesses for which there is no medical diagnosis
- Pain management issues stemming from prior injuries
- Tendencies to not follow prescribed treatments recommended by physicians
- A history of injuries caused by being involved in automobile accidents.
Any of the above information could be used as a reason for ICBC to dispute your injuries and the amount of medical care and treatment you need. ICBC may even use it to deny authorization for certain care and treatment you need in order to recover.
Contact Our Experienced ICBC Claims Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contact our experienced Vancouver ICBC claims lawyers today. At Klein Lawyers, LLP, we have the legal knowledge to advise you on how to seek the most in your ICBC claim.
We provide professional, trusted legal service at a time when you need it most. Serving the entire Vancouver and surrounding areas, our office is available to help today. Call or contact us online for a free consultation.