Obtaining Medical Records for a Personal Injury Case
When you file a personal injury claim for yourself or on behalf of someone else, one of the first things to understand is that the medical records (and your medical history) are going to be a main focus, since you're essentially asking for compensation for injuries ("damages") from the at-fault person or business.
Any hospital or health care facility where the injured sought medical treatment will have records of the care provided and the cost of that care. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through this process as well.
Your Right to Medical Records
The federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives patients the right to obtain a copy of their medical records from any medical provider, with a few exceptions. According to HIPAA, you may request:
- Your own medical records.
- Someone else's records if you are a designated representative. You may request someone else's medical records if they give you permission, in writing, to act as their representative in accessing records. For example, if your elderly parents designate you as their representative, medical providers must provide you with your parents' medical records if you make a request to obtain them.
- Someone else's records if you are their legal guardian. Likewise, if you are appointed as the legal guardian of another adult or child, you have the legal right to get that person's medical records.
- Your children's medical records, with some exceptions. For the most part, parents and legal guardians can obtain their children's medical records. There are a few exceptions to this rule. A parent may not get a child's records if: the child has consented to medical care and parental consent is not required under state law; the child gets medical care at the direction of a court; the parent agreed that the minor and the medical provider have a confidential relationship
- Records of deceased persons in certain circumstances. If you are the personal representative of an estate—either designated by a will or appointed by a court to settle a deceased person's affairs—HIPAA gives you access to the deceased's medical records. In addition, if you are related to a deceased person and certain information in that person's medical file relates to your own health, HIPAA lets you access that information.
How Long until you Receive the Requested Medical Records?
HIPAA states that medical providers must give copies of your records within 30 days of your notice. If 30 days is not enough time, they must provide you with a legitimate reason for the extension.
What if you are Denied or the Records are Incomplete?
If part of your medical record seems to be missing from the copies you have been provided, you may only need to respond with a written inquiry requesting the remainder of the information. However, some hospitals and medical providers have been found to withhold important records relating to medical malpractice lawsuits. In such a case, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer.
If you have questions about obtaining medical records for yourself or a loved one, or believe you have a personal injury case, contact our experienced team of attorneys today. You can reach Melissa Scartelli at 570-346-2600.