Getting Your Medical Records for a Personal Injury Case

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If you or somebody you love has been injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, you should be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, securing compensation through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit can be challenging. You will need to have medical records that show that you sustained an injury, how severe the injury was, and the totality of your medical treatment. Here, we want to discuss how you can go about getting your medical records so you can have them available for your personal injury case.

Your HIPAA Rights

Most people have heard about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly referred to as HIPAA. This law provides significant protection for a person’s health information, including their medical and mental health records. HIPAA limits who can access and receive your private information, and it also protects your rights when it comes to getting copies of your medical records.

Under HIPAA policies, you are generally allowed to request medical records for:

  • Yourself
  • Your child, as long as you are the legal guardian or custodial parent
  • Another adult, including a parent, if you are their legal representative
  • A deceased individual, if you are the representative of the estate

When you are seeking medical records other than your own, you will have to give the medical provider proof that you are the legal authority who can request the information. For example, you may have to prove that you are the power of attorney over a spouse or parent.

Requesting Medical Records in California

Sending a request for medical records is not difficult, but it can take some time to accomplish. This is particularly true for injury victims who may have been treated at multiple facilities. For example, a car accident victim may need to request records from the treating emergency department as well as their doctor’s office or any specialists they see following the initial emergency to continue their treatment.

Nearly every hospital and doctor’s office has policies in place and HIPAA-compliant forms that you will have to fill out before they release your records. In some cases, hospital systems are using an online portal for these requests. If you are represented by an attorney, then your attorney will be able to request your medical records on your behalf.

A typical request for medical records will include your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, patient ID number, and the dates of your treatment. It is important to understand that most facilities will charge a fee for non-electronic medical records. In California, medical providers can charge a fee for copying and mailing the medical records, but not the time spent locating and retrieving the records.

If a medical provider is unable to send your medical records within the 30-day period mandated under HIPAA, then they have to send a letter explaining why there is a delay and when they expect your records to be sent.

If you are requesting your medical records as a result of an ongoing personal injury you sustained caused by the careless or negligent actions of someone else, we strongly recommend that you work with a skilled personal injury attorney who can handle every aspect of the claim on your behalf. This will include obtaining your medical records and dealing with the insurance carriers involved.