People who get hurt in Hawaii accidents could be eligible to file a personal injury claim for compensation if someone else is to blame. But to recover the money you deserve after an accident, you need proof. Medical records are vital pieces of evidence to support your claim.
It’s guaranteed the insurance company will request access to your health records after an accident. But it’s crucial to provide only the health documents they need to protect your privacy. The experienced Oahu personal injury lawyers at Recovery Law Center can compile the documentation necessary to settle your claim and safeguard any irrelevant personal information from prying eyes.
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Which Medical Records Do You Need for Your Personal Injury Claim?
The nature of your injuries will determine which medical records are relevant to your personal injury claim. Common types of medical evidence include:
- Diagnostic and treatment records: Diagnostic records document your physician’s assessment of the type of injury you received, its severity, and the treatment prescribed.
- Medical bills: In a personal injury claim, compensation is possible for any accident-related expenses. Bills and receipts outline the costs of your emergency care, including ambulance rides, hospital stays, diagnostic tests, treatments, doctor visits, or prescription medications.
- Personal notes: Written, dated notes regarding your medical appointments and personal experience can give additional context to your medical records and the impact of the injury. You could also track these notes in a pain journal describing the pain and physical limitations you suffered from your injuries.
- Out-of-pocket expenses: Receipts and invoices from any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result of your injuries—such as the costs of transportation to a doctor’s appointment — provide further evidence of your financial burdens.
- Photos of visible injuries: Visual evidence is compelling evidence. If you have visible injuries or limitations due to the injuries, take photos. They may demonstrate the severity of an injury over time better than any report can.
Why is Medical Documentation Important?
No matter if you file a first-party insurance claim, a third-party insurance claim, or a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll need health information to support your case. Insurance companies and court systems require legal documents of proof of injury to limit fraudulent claims.
Medical records from any hospitals, clinics, physicians, specialists, therapists, or pharmacists who cared for you can show:
- The timeline of your injuries: Not only do your medical records prove that your injuries exist, but they can also demonstrate that your current state is not the result of a preexisting condition. If you have a preexisting condition, solid medical evidence can prove that the accident worsened that condition.
- Your medical expenses: Your medical records and any corresponding bills can demonstrate to insurance adjusters, judges, or jurors the full financial impact of your injuries. Without these records, you’ll have no way to justify how much your personal injury lawsuit is worth.
- The overall impact of your injuries: Your medical information may contain evidence of the intangible costs of your injuries, such as chronic pain or insomnia. This documentation can support your claim for compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
- How your injuries may impact your future: Medical records also contain opinions and prognoses from doctors, specialists, and therapists. These statements can provide valuable insight into the long-term effects of your injuries. They can also support demands for compensation for future losses like additional medical care and lost earning capacity.
How Do I Get My Medical Records?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains a set of federal regulatory standards that protect your personal health information. HIPAA keeps your private medical data secure by establishing limits on who can access it. It also ensures your right to obtain copies of your healthcare records.
An experienced lawyer can request medical records for your personal injury claim on your behalf. All you’ll need to do is provide your written consent to do so.
It’s also possible to request your records on your own. But this process can take a while, especially when you are recovering from serious injuries. You’ll usually need to send separate, written requests to each medical provider. Many health care providers offer patients a HIPAA-friendly form that they can fill out to request copies of their records. You can also make a written request yourself if necessary.
In some cases, an insurance adjuster may ask you to sign a release form granting them complete authorization to access your medical records. Be careful ― agreeing to release records could give the adjuster access to your entire medical history, not just the information related to the accident. They could later use medical record information against you to minimize or reject your claim.
When the insurance company requests copies of your medical records, it’s best to contact a personal injury attorney for advice before signing. You may be better off giving them limited access or providing copies of the records after obtaining them yourself. If an adjuster asks for additional medical information that seems unrelated to your case, you have the right to refuse their request. A knowledgeable attorney can provide the advice you need to protect your claim.
Hawaii Law for Medical Records
State laws address how you can access your medical record. Under Hawaii Revised Statutes §622-57, healthcare providers must provide copies of patient medical records upon request. The only exception is circumstances where doctors deem it would be “detrimental” to a person’s health to be given their patient records. In these cases, the healthcare provider can instead submit copies of the medical records to an attorney authorized by the person.
No specific state or federal law requires you to give an insurance adjuster access to your medical records. However, the insurance company will most likely deny your injury claim if you refuse to provide relevant health information. Rather than granting the insurance company complete access, you can fill out a request form for the relevant records yourself and then make copies for the adjuster as needed.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Let Recovery Law Center prevent your sensitive medical information from being used against you. Our Hawaii personal injury lawyers dedicate themselves to providing high-quality legal services in a compassionate atmosphere.
Whether you need to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit, Attorneys Glenn Honda and George Alejandro can provide the legal advice you need to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. Our award-winning firm is recognized for excellence with accolades from The National Trial Lawyers, Lawyers of Distinction, and the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, among others.
There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free consultation. Call or contact us today.