Why Medical Records are Key to a Personal Injury CaseMay 20th, 2013 by 1800thelaw2
Medical Records Help Prove Personal Injury
If you’ve been injured in a car accident or as the result of a slip and fall, medical malpractice, a product defect or dog bite, medical records will be an integral part of your personal injury case. Your medical records will show what injuries you sustained, the extent of pain you experienced, what treatment was given, what ongoing conditions you have and how the injury may affect your life, now and in the future. Without medical records, it’s virtually impossible for a personal injury lawyer to prove that you’ve been hurt as the result of another person’s or organization’s negligence.
Accessing medical records is governed by a number of laws established by the Federal Privacy Act of 1974, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the U.S. Department of Health, the state in which you live and your employer’s policies.
These days, most medical records are kept in electronic format. Because medical records are protected from disclosure by HIPAA, you will have to sign a release form to obtain copies of your medical records. Hospitals and medical clinics have their own processes, and some may charge a fee for copies.
Insurance companies may ask you to sign a release form authorizing them to access your medical records directly from the doctor’s office. This is a common practice in personal injury cases. DO NOT consent without talking to your lawyer first.
During the discovery phase of a personal injury case, each side in a case may make a Request for Production (RFP) to obtain medical records and other documents that are relevant to the claims being made in the case. Even if a RFP is made, however, the request could be denied. If this happens, medical records and other relevant document could be subpoenaed.
Remember, the other side will be looking for information that can damage your claim or make the severity of your injuries seem less than they actually are. Being honest and open with your lawyer is critical. If the other side tries to use personal information against you that has nothing to do with the claim, your lawyer could have it suppressed. But it’s important to be truthful.
Gathering medical records and other types of evidence for a personal injury case can be complicated and time consuming if you don’t have a lawyer. Do yourself a favor and call 1-800-THE-LAW2. With one call, you could get your medical bills paid, get your property fixed and get compensated for time off work – without paying a cent of out of pocket. Our Live Chat feature can also help you connect with one of our helpful bilingual representatives. They are ready to help you in English and Spanish.