The Role of Medical Records in Personal Injury Cases

When you sustain injury as the result of someone else’s legal fault, you may be able to gain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages resulting from your accident. An injury lawsuit is a vital part of our civil justice system because it gives victims of negligence the financial means to move forward and recover. Deciding the amount of your damages can be difficult and is often a sticking point in personal injury suit negotiations. Your medical records and examinations can be integral parts of your personal injury case, from illustrating the extent of the injury to illuminating ongoing challenges.

Calculating Damages

One of the most important things your medical records can do is provide proof of your injuries. Official records of hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, and ongoing meetings with a physical therapist can illustrate the injuries you suffered and how these injuries will continue to affect your life. You can help your case by seeking treatment immediately after any injury. Early medical records will help show the gravity of your injury and how it develops over time. Keep copies of all your medical bills, because this will help your attorney determine the amount of your economic damages.

How Your Medical Records Affect the Defense

You’re often going up against their insurance company when you pursue a personal injury claim against an individual or company. These insurance companies will likely ask for an independent medical investigation to ensure a fair assessment of your injuries. They may also ask for lab tests and imaging. The doctor working for the insurance company will provide a report of your injuries, how he or she believes they will affect your life, and the extent of your future treatment. A jury may consider these and your own doctor’s medical records to determine the exact amount of special damages.

Patient Privacy and Personal Injury Cases

Patients normally enjoy privacy regarding their medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, a personal injury case erases much of this protection. Your attorney must review your records to assess the strength of your case, and you must provide records to the defense after your file a lawsuit. State law requires that you sign a medical record release, which allows providers to share information with attorneys regarding your case.

Medical Records Don’t Lie

The legal system considers medical records as one of the strongest forms of evidence in your personal injury claim. Unlike subjective accounts, medical records provide the most accurate picture of how injuries do and will affect your life. It’s essential that you tell the truth when speaking with your medical providers and answering questions about your medical history. Stretching the truth may undermine the veracity of your personal injury claim.

Your medical records will form the foundation of your civil lawsuit. It is imperative that you submit to all testing immediately, remain truthful throughout the process, and follow up with any recommended treatment or doctors’ appointments. Following these directions will result in improving the health of your claim.