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Accessing Medical Records for a Personal Injury Claim

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Accessing Medical Records for a Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury law involves a plaintiff being injured by another person or entity. When the plaintiff’s injuries are physical, medical information is needed to prove that the defendant’s actions actually did cause the physical injury. Often, attorneys will request potential clients have medical records with them during the initial consultation in order to see if the client even has a claim that can be pursued in court.

Can I Obtain a Copy of My Medical Records?

Yes. According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), individuals can receive a copy of their own medical records from any provider. There are a few exceptions where a person cannot obtain their medical records.

According to HIPAA, patients have the right to view original medical records, except:

  • Psychotherapy notes
  • Medical information a provider believes could endanger the health and safety of others
  • Information that is being gathered and compiled for a lawsuit, such as records that are being gathered during the discovery process, as such a request would need to be made through the court

Who Else Can Obtain My Medical Records?

Besides individuals seeking their own medical records, other people who can request them include:

Can I Receive the Medical Records of a Deceased Individual?

The only person who can obtain a copy of a deceased individual’s medical records is the estate’s personal representative. The personal representative may be appointed by the court or via the deceased person’s will. Other people, such as a family member or a close friend, will need to ask the representative or petition the court to obtain a copy on their behalf if they want one.

How Long Will It Take to Receive the Medical Records?

It usually takes about 30 days to receive copies of the medical records. Some states such as California have a quicker turnaround. In California, it only takes about 15 days to receive medical records.

What Is the Process of Obtaining the Medical Records?

Each state and healthcare provider has their own rules on how one must go about requesting their medical records. However, a person must usually:

  • Contact the medical provider to find out where the request should be sent
  • Make a written request
  • Include the name, telephone number, address, date of birth, email address, and medical record number in the request
  • Complete a release form
  • Indicate whether the request is for originals and/or copies of the medical records

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me Request My Medical Records?

If you have suffered a personal injury, you do have the right to obtain copies of your medical records, and you have the right to appeal any denial of your request for those records. These records may be necessary to prove that you were injured or to prove that the injury was not a prior-existing injury. Contact a personal injury lawyer to obtain help with this task.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-10-2016 09:57 AM PDT

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