Getting Your Medical Records
Medical records and medical bills are extremely important to a civil personal injury case. Medical records detail the injuries the Plaintiff or injured person has sustained while the bills serve as evidence of actual damages. In order to settle an injury claim, an insurance carrier will require copies of the medical bills along with their corresponding medical records to make sure that the treatment was required due to the car accident. While Plaintiffs will often get copies of their medical bills by mail, obtaining medical records can be a bit more tricky.
After an injured person files a claim with an insurance company, the company will automatically send a Medical Authorization or HIPAA form, to the injured person for their signature. By signing this form, the injured person gives the insurance company the ability to collect medical records from medical providers themselves. While this takes the stress of obtaining the records away from the injured person, it can also create problems. First, it gives the control to the insurance company. The adjuster may not send a request to the treating providers right away or may not follow up with the providers to seek timely receipt of the records. This can translate to a long delay in the time that it takes to get a case settled and can leave an injured person feeling frustrated and helpless. Second, it gives the insurance company the ability to go on a “fishing expedition” and request medical records from prior to the wreck to discredit the injuries sustained in the crash. For example: a Plaintiff claims to have neck and back pain stemming from the collision. The insurance company sends the Plaintiff’s signed Medical Authorization to a medical clinic in the same town where Plaintiff lives. Low and behold, the Plaintiff was treated for back pain five years before this auto accident took place. Now the insurance company decides that Plaintiff has had back pain for the last five years and is not entitled to payment for the treatment they received for their back pain after this collision. However illogical this sounds, this is exactly what insurance companies try to do.
Another way to get medical records is for the Plaintiff to request them from the medical provider themselves. Sometimes this is an easy process and Plaintiff just needs to go to the doctor’s office and sign a form requesting the records. However, many medical providers outsource their medical records and a formal request must be sent to the third party company. It can take time and a lot of follow up to obtain these records.
The easiest way to get medical records is to hire an attorney to represent you in your personal injury matter. Your attorney will have you sign a Medical Authorization and will request your records on your behalf. Your attorney will then go through your records and ensure that only relevant records are sent to the insurance company for settlement purposes.
If an insurance company is asking you to sign a Medical Authorization or HIPAA form, please call our office for a free consultation to determine your best course of action.