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Why Medical Records Are Important In Personal Injury Law

Why Medical Records Are Important In Personal Injury Law

A client reviewing their medical records with a personal injury attorney.

Medical records are essential in personal injury law for many reasons. When it comes to building a successful personal injury claim, you must have evidence not only of the injury but also that it was caused by another party’s negligence.

After experiencing an injury, one of the first things you should do is see a medical provider to begin creating and gathering medical records. This goes for injuries caused by accidents, to overuse injuries from work. However, gathering your medical records will require work. Learn more about medical records and how working with a lawyer will help you build a successful case. 

Let’s go further into this further by examining the importance of medical records in the context of different types of accidents.

Car Accidents

Auto accidents typically cause many types of injuries. Even if you were in a minor auto accident, it’s likely that you will experience injuries like whiplash. You should visit a medical provider as soon as you can after an accident. 

When you visit a doctor or other provider, it will show on your record that you sought treatment after your accident. These records provide important evidence that will strengthen your claim and prove your injury.

These kinds of records will also be created if you have to receive care at a hospital, especially after a more severe large truck collision.

The type of records needed for each claim will be different, but a personal injury attorney can help you figure out which records need to be sent. Typically, an insurance company will need to know the extent of your injuries, the kind of care received, and the costs of each. Additionally, if you received care in a hospital, the insurance company may need to know how long your stay was.

Wrongful Death

These types of cases often lead to complications and stress. Especially, when it comes to gathering strong enough evidence. Hard evidence carries powerful legal strength. Medical records provide hard evidence and value. However, medical records lie behind protections due to privacy laws.

In order to request the records of a deceased loved one, you must receive authorization. The number one reason there are extra hoops to jump through is because of doctor-patient confidentiality laws and HIPAA.

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act of 1996. In summary, HIPAA protects the medical records and information of patients from being accessed or shared without consent. If you were injured in an accident, you will help to sign a disclosure form to allow your attorney, the insurance company, and other legal parties to access your records relevant to your case.

However, if you are filing a wrongful death suit on the behalf of a deceased loved one or friend, you or another person who has the power of attorney, or is the executor of their estate, will have to access those records.

Medical Malpractice

First, let’s review what medical malpractice is. Simply put, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or medical provider acts unreasonably when providing care, and then that behavior causes injury to the patient. 

When filing a claim, you will need to gather as much information as possible. Because each case is different, a trained medical malpractice lawyer is your best resource for determining what information is most relevant to your case.

On the other hand, if a treatment you received caused your injury, then you should ask your lawyer about filing a medical malpractice claim. Medical professionals not adhering to a high standard of care for their patients can make medical errors that cause injury.

Requesting Medical Records

One major benefit of the Health Insurance Portability and Account Act (HIPAA), is that it allows patients to request a copy of their medical records. This would allow you to obtain the information you need in order to file a personal injury claim for medical negligence or other types of medical malpractice cases resulting from your medical care.

If you’re not sure exactly which records you will need, you should talk to your lawyer. They may have you sign a HIPAA request form that will allow them to request the appropriate records on your behalf. Should you decide to have your attorney request the records, you may have to sign additional forms depending on your state laws, and the permissions at your doctor’s office.

Another problem that people run into when filing a personal injury claim is knowing where to send their records. You should do the appropriate research to find the exact department and address of the insurance company that needs to see your records. If sent to the wrong department, your records could easily be lost and your claim may fail. Work with your lawyer to find this information.

When insurance companies deal with personal injury cases, they do not need to see every health record. In fact, they should not. You should only send the insurance company records pertinent to the injury sustained in the accident and the medical treatment of the injured person.

Examples of these records include:

  • Medical bills
  • Hospital stay records
  • Prescription drug forms
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Patient forms
  • Receipts

After you’ve gathered your records

Once you’ve organized this health information, you can use it to begin filing a personal injury claim. If the claim does not give you the results you want, it may be time to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Either way, the legal process can be overwhelming and stressful for someone without expertise. Working with a personal injury lawyer will give your case the best chance for success.

The Galligan Law Firm

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, we are a small personal injury law firm dedicated to helping people receive the compensation they need. Our experienced attorneys know several other areas of personal injury law, including trucking accidents, nursing home negligence, and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. We also have experience with defective product litigation such as pressure cooker explosions.

We’re located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, just a few blocks from the Des Moines River, and across the street from Cowles Commons.

Call or stop by our office for a free consultation and legal advice. We will help you file a lawsuit and get the compensation you need. We look forward to working with you on medical malpractice lawsuits and other legal topics.

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