What Personal Injury Victims Need to Know About Medical Records and the Law
After suffering an injury in a car accident, you may have questions about privacy laws and your medical records that can be addressed by a motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD victims turn to for answers. The attorneys of Cohen & Cohen have served personal injury victims for more than 20 years. Our legal team has a thorough understanding of how a patient’s right to their medical privacy can be impacted by a personal injury claim.
During the claims process, if you have hired a motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD respects, he or she will have to submit your medical records to the insurance adjuster. Without medical documentation of your personal injury, it will be next to impossible to negotiate a settlement. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give them blanket access to your medical records.
Privacy Laws and Your Personal Injury Claim
Access to your personal health information is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA laws specify who can have legal access to your medical records, including you and your trusted motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD has to offer.
The enforcement of HIPAA laws are left to each state to regulate. Your attorney can give you more specific information, but generally, the regulations will likely include:
- Fees charged for copies of your medical records
- How much time your medical provider can take to process and provide you with copies of your medical records
When working with your Hillcrest Heights MD motor vehicle accident lawyer on your personal injury settlement, you can ask how HIPAA laws in your state might impact your case. They may also affect your personal injury case if a settlement is not reached and it ends up going to trial.
When you sign a Release of Information form for your medical records, HIPAA can no longer protect your privacy. In most cases, an insurance company will require you to sign a release of information form before a settlement is negotiated. Though they may be entitled to access your current injury medical records, a motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD residents trust can make sure they are not allowed access to your entire history.
A first-party claim is when you or a top motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD can provide files a personal insurance claim against your insurance company instead of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This can be necessary if the other driver doesn’t have insurance.
If you or your motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD has to offer files a first-party claim, your insurance company will likely require that you undergo an Independent Medical Exam. Without the exam, they may reject your claim. By agreeing to the Independent Medical Exam, you waive your right to medical privacy. The results of that exam will be submitted to your insurance company. Your insurance company can reserve the right to deny you access to the exam’s results. If your personal injury case goes to court in a lawsuit, a motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD trusts can request copies of the exam’s results.
Doctors who perform Independent Medical Exams are paid by the insurance company who may be fighting your claim or lawsuit. Unfortunately, as a motor vehicle accident lawyer in Hillcrest Heights MD will probably tell you, this is an accepted conflict of interest.
When you file a claim against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company, this is known as a third-party claim. It is very unusual that the insurance company in this scenario will require you undergo an Independent Medical Exam. The only way the insurance company can access your medical records is if you authorize that access.
By the same token, you and your attorney will not have immediate access to the at-fault driver’s medical records either. However, your lawyer can likely subpoena them.
Limitations to Access of Your Own Medical Records
HIPAA allows doctors to restrict your access to portions of your own medical records for a number of reasons. The restricted information may be any of the following:
- Communications between your doctor and other medical personnel
- The doctor’s personal observations about you
- Information that may cause substantial harm to anyone, including you
- Information that you told the doctors on a confidential basis
- Assessments or other medical information about you that other doctors have shared with your current doctor
Requesting Your Medical Records
To access your medical records, you must submit a written request signed by yourself. If you grant your attorney written authorization, he or she can also request your medical records. You will want to authorize full access to your medical records that pertain to your current injury which includes all of your healthcare providers, how you were treated, and how much it cost.
In your written request for access to your medical records, specify the start and end dates of your treatment. This may include any or all of the following:
- Admission notes and charts
- Notes made by nurses and physicians
- Your relevant medical history and narratives
- Prognosis and diagnosis of your injury
- Full and complete test results
- Any additional medical information that is related to your injury
Call Cohen & Cohen Today
The attorneys at Cohen & Cohen have served more than 10,000 personal injury clients in the last 20 years, recovering more than $100 million in due compensation. After suffering a personal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident that was not your fault, you deserve a team of legal professionals who had dedicated their lives to protecting your rights. Cohen & Cohen is proud to be a motor vehicle accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD can believe in; contact us today!