Why Are Medical Records Important to My Personal Injury Case?
Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022
If you are filing a personal injury claim, you might wonder why your legal team finds it necessary to access your whole medical history. Understandably, many people initially find such a request somewhat intrusive. However, it is important to understand that a request for this information is a vital step in making progress on your claim.
If you succeed in your personal injury claim, the amount of your compensation will be dependent on the nature and severity of the injuries you have suffered. It will be necessary for you to have an examination with a medical professional, who will subsequently prepare a medical report that will be based on both their examination and any relevant history that appears in your medical records. This report will likely cover such factors as:
- Diagnosis and treatment – Your medical records are vital in that they will provide the medical expert with the information they need to determine a diagnosis, a prognosis, and any complications that may arise in the future as a result of your injuries. These records will also help medical experts understand any diagnoses or treatments you have received before that may have consequences for their recommendations for further treatment.
- Causality – A review of medical records is also essential to your claim because it assists in determining whether the injury you sustained was a direct consequence of the accident or occurred because of unrelated circumstances.
- Pre-existing conditions – Additionally, your records will help the medical professional ascertain whether you were experiencing any pre-existing conditions or symptoms before the accident happened and whether these factors may have had an impact on the injuries you sustained in the accident. It might be that the event worsened or accelerated a pre-existing condition. If this is the case, your records can help the expert determine what proportion of your injury and recovery time is linked directly to the accident.
Other Reasons Medical Records Are Important
Obtaining your medical records might help your case in other ways. For instance, in the event of a dispute about the circumstances of your accident or the seriousness of your injuries, certain entries that detail your time at the hospital or with your doctor following the accident could assist in proving that the accident did indeed occur as alleged.
Who Will See My Medical Records?
Once your legal team receives your records, they will look over them in detail so they can determine what entries in your medical history might be relevant to your case. They will also send a copy to the medical expert so that they can review the records and, if needed, make reference to them in their report.
Your attorneys and the medical expert are prohibited by HIPAA from disclosing your records without your express consent or an order of the court. It may be necessary in some cases, for example, for the court to disclose your medical records to the opponent’s representative. Importantly, however, they are also bound by HIPAA.
Any sensitive information within your records that is irrelevant to your claim (such as the names of relatives or other parties that are not involved) may be removed prior to disclosing your records to your attorneys.
What Happens If I Refuse to Allow Access to My Records?
If you do not authorize the release of your records, this may have a serious negative impact on the success of your claim. The opposing party’s legal team might argue that you are trying to conceal material facts about your medical history.
Additionally, full or partial refusal to disclose your records can mean that a medical expert cannot give an accurate report about the relevant circumstances of your accident and its effects. The medical report is one of the most vital documents for valuing your claim as it relates to the pain and suffering your accident has caused, as well as the degree to which your life has been negatively affected as a result.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The St. Louis personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw, LLC understand and respect your right to privacy, even when you are involved in an important legal process. In addition to fighting hard to get you the compensation you deserve in your personal injury claim, we are committed to protecting your HIPAA rights both during your case and after it is complete.
If you have recently experienced an injury that was the fault of another party and you are concerned about the consequences of legal action and the exposure of your medical records, contact us for a free and confidential consultation. Call us today at (314) 963-9000.