Failure to act with reasonable care is considered negligence. When you are injured because of someone's negligence, you may file a personal injury claim asking the negligent party to repay you for damages you suffer. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering. Deciding on the amount of your damages can be difficult, especially if you'll need treatment in the future. Medical records and examinations can help with that process by revealing the extent of the injury, as well as any ongoing conditions or problems resulting from the injury.
Medical Records Help Prove Damages
Your medical records can provide proof of your damages. Records from the hospital, doctor's office, physical therapist, and other providers can show what injuries you suffered, how much pain you experienced, what treatment was given, and how the injury affected and will continue to affect your life. Be sure to seek medical help immediately after any injury. Earlier medical records can show your condition before the injury, including previous injuries that might have affected the same part of your body.
The Defendant May Request a Medical Examination
Many insurance companies routinely ask for an independent medical examination in personal injury cases. The insurance company hires a doctor to examine you and report on any findings. The doctor may request laboratory and x-ray tests as well. The doctor will issue a report detailing the extent of your injury, its effects on your life, and what treatment you'll need in the future. Your own doctors can also provide letters and reports to support your claim.
You Must Provide Access to Your Records
Although your medical records are usually private, you must provide access to them if you file a personal injury claim. Your lawyer needs to review the records to determine the strength of your evidence. If a claim is filed, your lawyer must also provide copies to the other side. Federal and state laws require you to sign a medical records release form allowing the providers to share the records with your lawyer.
Be Careful When You Talk About Your Condition
You must always be truthful in answering questions about your medical history and about the injury. If you have concerns about providing certain information, discuss the issue with your lawyer. Your lawyer can ask the court to limit access to certain information that has nothing to do with your injury. You also need to remember that the doctor hired by the other side will be looking for information that could be damaging to your case, so answer questions briefly but honestly. Being less than truthful at this stage of the game can come back to haunt you in court.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the role of medical exams and records in personal injury law is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.