If you are the victim of another driver's carelessness, you may be planning to pursue a claim against them for damages. You have a right to compensation for your injuries, but first you need to be able to prove that you have injuries. In your efforts to prove your claim, you may need to access medical information that is normally considered confidential, and not commonly available even to the person receiving the treatment. You do have a right to access your own medical information, and doing so could prove to be one of the most important elements of your claim. Read on to learn about what you have a right to access and how to procure it.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
We've all had to sign forms with the above title when seeking medical help; they have become so routine that few people even read them anymore. While the routine forms that you sign at the doctor's office are related to the act that allows access to medical records, these forms are normally about who you are giving permission to to access your medical information. For example, you may allow the office to leave a message with another family member about an upcoming appointment. The HIPPA regulations, however, are so much more than that and it's the power that it gave ordinary people to get copies of their medical records that is pertinent to your personal injury case. Among other things, this act afforded people the rights to have copies of their medical records provided to them within 30 days of their request.
The importance of medical records
If you had only one piece of evidence to offer in connection with your accident, the information that pertains to the injuries that you suffered from the car accident would be sufficient. Your medical records not only contain reliable and official proof of the extent of your injuries, but they also contain a key factor that the insurance companies use when calculating an amount to offer you for your settlement. The dollar amount of your medical expenses together with the severity of your injuries are used in a somewhat complicated computation to arrive at a starting point for settlement negotiations, so if you cannot access those records, you have no case against the other driver.
How to get your records
Each medical facility will need to be contacted separately, so make a list of all doctors, lab tests, pharmacies, hospitals, etc. and contact them to determine what forms the request requires. Once you have the information, be sure to check it carefully for missing pages or bad copies. If the facility fails to comply within the 30 day period, and follow up calls fall on seemingly deaf ears, you may need to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.
If you are having trouble coping with the claim on your own, a personal injury attorney can help you get the exact pieces of proof you need. Click here for information on building your personal injury case.