Prime Evidence: Accessing Your Medical Information
When the worst happens and you get injured by a careless driver, you may well be contemplating a personal injury suit. Even relatively minor accidents can cause severe injuries, and the impact on your wallet should not be underestimated either. In some cases, you have no vehicle, you are suffering from painful and debilitating injuries, and you have missed so much work that you are falling behind on your bills. Proving your damages is key, and one of the most important pieces of evidence will probably turn out to be your medical records. Read on to learn more about the importance of these records to your case and how to get your hands on them.
What makes your records so important?
You may have noticed that your medical bills are being paid by the at-fault driver's insurance, or perhaps your own insurance. With that in mind, you may not even be aware of how much money has been spent on your medical treatments as a result of the wreck. You should be very aware of this number, and this is why: the dollar amount of your medical treatments (so far and an estimate of future needs) is used as a factor in determining your pain and suffering. Other factors are involved, but this number is used to determine how severe your injuries are and how much you may be eventually offered to settle the case. You can only help your cause by keeping a close watch on the dollar amount of treatments and on supporting documentation.
The proof you need
There is no greater or more convincing proof of your injuries than your medical records, and fortunately the law is on your side. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) broke ground with several important rights for medical consumers, and access to medical records was one of those rights. You have likely signed HIPAA documents when visiting the doctor, but not really realized what it meant. In most cases, these documents protect your privacy by ensuring that your medical information is only released to certain individuals or other medical facilities. This law also requires a medical facility to release to you your own records within 30 days of a written request, or show the reason for not complying.
Accessing the records
When it comes to actually getting these much-needed documents, it may be easier said than done. Medical facilities are well aware of the law, but are extremely busy places and your request could fall by the side or be incomplete when it does come to you. This is where a personal injury lawyer comes in handy, since they not only understand the importance of the information but know how to access it quickly.