Posted on Saturday, August 20th, 2022 at 6:24 pm
Medical evidence is one of the most crucial parts of a personal injury case. Pursuing compensation after an accident requires proof of various financial losses, such as medical treatment. Your medical records can prove that your injury happened in the accident you were in that was caused by someone else, and that your injury limits your physical or mental abilities.
Obtaining a copy of every medical record related to your injury is necessary to build a strong claim to submit to the insurance company. These records will show exactly when the injury occurred, the symptoms it causes, and the progress you’ve made during treatment.
Medical records can also help in the calculation of the value of an injury. When you pursue compensation from the insurance company, you must prove the monetary award you are entitled to due to the accident. Your medical documentation can show your expenses while recovering from the injury.
Requesting medical records isn’t as complicated as you might think. However, it requires providing specific details to receive the correct documentation you want. Below is a guide to requesting medical records during your personal injury case.
Understanding Privacy Laws Associated with Records Requests
When you request copies of your medical records, you typically need to complete an authorization form. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects a person’s privacy regarding their personal health information. The act guarantees an individual’s rights to copies of their own medical records that they request. It also prevents unauthorized parties from getting their hands on the records.
HIPAA also imposes multiple regulations regarding the process for accessing medical documentation, such as:
- Where you can view your records, such as on the doctor’s website or in a password-protected PDF document
- Required fees for making copies of the medical records
- The length of time healthcare professionals have to respond to records requests
Medical providers often ask patients to fill out a HIPAA form at the first appointment. If you initially denied others access to your records, it’s possible that the provider will ask for a new HIPAA form.
After an accident, you could even sign a form but leave the rest blank so your personal injury attorney can submit requests for various types of records during your ongoing case. This streamlines the process, so you don’t have to sign a HIPAA form each time a new request is made.
Methods for Requesting Medical Records
Various methods exist for requesting copies of medical records. One way isn’t necessarily better than the other. It depends on your preferences and how comfortable you are with certain technologies. The most common methods are below.
You could go to your doctor’s office and ask for a copy of your file. They might require you to fill out some forms to obtain your records and pay a small copying fee.
Some medical providers put together the records for a patient immediately. However, others might make you come back later to retrieve a copy of your file if they don’t have time to do it while you’re there.
Some healthcare professionals have an online patient portal you can use to request your records. You can submit the request and ask for copies to be sent to you electronically.
The records you receive will be in PDF form so you can save them to your computer. This simplifies the process, especially if you need to submit your medical records to another party, such as your personal injury lawyer. Instead of bringing a large stack of papers, you can email the copies.
How to Handle an Insurance Company’s Request
When you file a personal injury claim, the insurance carrier will likely reach out at some point to ask for copies of your medical records. They want proof that you sustained an injury in the accident. They’re also looking for evidence to determine whether their policyholder is liable.
You don’t have to comply with the request. You should also avoid signing any paperwork the insurance carrier sends to you. Discuss it with your lawyer if they ask for your signature on any forms. Sometimes, insurers try to trick accident victims into signing away their rights. They might give you a HIPAA form that allows them to request copies of your medical records.
This could allow them to request records from before the accident and use them to argue that your injury is from a preexisting condition.
You don’t have to submit any documentation to the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, you shouldn’t ignore their request. Your personal injury attorney can respond and inform them of the ongoing investigation.
Contact Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP
Since 1997, the personal injury attorneys of Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP have fought on behalf of our client’s rights. We understand the devastation of getting hurt in an accident that isn’t your fault. You can count on our dedicated team to advocate for your rights and pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.
If you sustained injuries in an accident in Alabama due to someone else’s negligence, call the Birmingham personal injury lawyers of Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP at (205) 324-1212 for your free consultation or reach out to us online.