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Why Are Personal Injury Medical Records Essential to the Case?

You know all too well the constant pain and financial burden of your injury. You’ve endured hours of treatment and recovery. You haven’t been able to care for yourself and your loved ones the way you once did. 

If someone else’s negligence caused your injury, you should seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. While the team at Eng & Woods works hard to get you the compensation you deserve to be whole as quickly as possible, the responsible party will try to slow down the process. They may try to brush aside your injury and prove that your pain is minimal or put the blame on you. 

One of the primary ways to quantify damages you’ve sustained in a case is through your personal injury medical records. These documents are crucial to building your case. Read on to learn more about the importance of personal injury medical records. 

What Are Personal Injury Medical Records?

Personal injury medical records can include any official documentation created by a healthcare professional overseeing the diagnosis, care and treatment of your injury. Personal injury medical records can range from the initial diagnosis after your accident to the final visit with a therapist or other specialist designated to treat you. They offer an objective story of your injury recorded through your healthcare provider’s point of view.  

Medical records may vary slightly in format across institutions and states. However, a few items you can expect on a Missouri medical record include:

  • Your ID
  • The date or dates that you were seen
  • Your current status
  • Observation of pertinent physical findings
  • Assessment and clinical impression of diagnosis
  • Plan for care and treatment
  • Any informed consent for office procedures

Now that we’ve had a chance to cover some of the information in this critical documentation, let’s dig into why these files are crucial to your case. 

Why Are Personal Injury Medical Records Important to Your Case?

Personal injury medical records are essential to legitimizing your injury to a jury in a trial. Official documentation in your case can: 

  • Verify the existence of your injury. 
  • Provide the timeline for the assessment of your injury by a healthcare professional.
  • Help establish a link between your injuries and the incident that caused them. 

Your medical records are the basis for a personal injury case. Without them, it is more difficult to establish your injury and prove the at-fault party’s negligence. If you have suffered an injury in an accident, it is important to seek medical treatment for your injury, being sure to convey to the medical provider the cause of your injury. 

Some people avoid seeking medical treatment, even when it is needed. However, it is difficult to convince an insurer or jury of the severity of an injury if the injured person does not seek medical treatment.  

What Do I Need to Know About Retrieving My Personal Injury Medical Records?

Now that we’ve explored the importance of your medical records to your case, you may wonder how to obtain these records to add to your evidence file. The team at Eng & Woods has staff dedicated to this purpose. When you hire Eng & Woods to represent you, we will obtain medical authorization from you and a list of where you have sought treatment. As part of our representation, we will collect your medical records and bills from the various providers to use as evidence in your case.  

If you don’t have attorney representation, you can still collect your records directly from the medical provider. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) established many of the rules and regulations regarding access to medical records at a national level. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, this act requires HIPAA-covered entities to provide individuals with access to their protected health information in a reasonable amount of time (at least within 30 days). You have the right to a “broad array” of health information from these entities, including:

  • Medical records
  • Billing and payment records
  • Insurance info
  • Clinical laboratory test results
  • Medical images, such as X-rays
  • Wellness and disease management program files 
  • Clinical case notes

While you should be able to access your medical records in most instances, two categories of information are excluded from the right of access:

  • Psychotherapy notes: Any personal notes of a mental health care provider that documented or analyzed the contents of a counseling session are excluded.
  • Information compiled for a trial or administrative action: You may not be able to access medical records your provider is using in a lawsuit.

If you’ve already collected official medical documentation or are just starting your process of personal injury evidence collection, there are a few other pieces that can help bolster your case. 

What Other Evidence Should You Collect for Your Personal Injury Case?

After a devastating injury, we know you want to recover as quickly as possible to get back to your life. However, documenting your injury and recovery process is important to solidifying your case. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you determine what evidence will be most beneficial. You would much rather have too much evidence than not enough. 

Here are a few ways you may be able to supplement your personal injury medical records:

  • Photographs of the injury: Photographs can be beneficial in personal injury cases, as they can help further confirm the existence of your injury. Photographs documenting your recovery also help the jury understand what you have gone through. For example, if you were in a cast for several months following your accident, photographs of you in that condition and trying to perform daily activities will help a jury recognize the extent of difficulty your injury has caused.  
  • Related out-of-pocket expenses: While the medical expenses from any hospital stays and treatments are usually included in your documentation, you want to hold on to receipts for any related costs, such as medicine and medical supplies. If you are receiving bills from the medical providers, keep copies of those bills and provide them to your attorney.  
  • Personal notes: Although it may not be used in court, it’s always a good idea to have a detailed account of what happened so you can present your case to your lawyer succinctly. You want to write down what happened while the incident is fresh in your mind. 

While the intricacies of personal injury law can be daunting and feel out of reach, help is not. If you’ve recently suffered a personal injury due to no fault of your own and need the guiding help of an experienced attorney, contact the team at Eng & Woods Attorneys at Law. 

We’ve helped several individuals in difficult situations like yours get the compensation they needed to recover. Our team will do what we can to help deliver you the verdict or settlement you deserve.

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  • Columbia Office
    1000 West Nifong Boulevard, Building 7
    Suite 201
    Columbia, Missouri 65203
    Phone: 573-874-4190
    Fax: 573-874-4192
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