Disclosing Medical Records in Injury Claims: What You Need to Know

medical records with a stethoscope on top

When pursuing compensation for an injury, disclosing your medical records can be a delicate matter. Insurance companies often try to find a reason to deny or devalue your claim by reviewing patients’ medical histories. Fortunately, our personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you disclose your medical records in a manner that does not invade your privacy while providing sufficient proof of your injuries to help validate your claim.

In this article, we discuss some concerns injury victims often have about disclosing their medical records and how our attorneys may be able to help you through the process.

Who Can Review My Medical Records?

Thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), individuals have the right to keep their personal health records, including health and mental records, private. Only you have the right to access this information, but you may provide written permission to someone else, such as a treating doctor or insurance company, to review your records.  

Under HIPAA, you may also request medical records for:

  • Your children
  • Another adult who you legally represent
  • A deceased person if you are legally appointed to represent the person’s estate

Who Should I Give Permission to Review My Records?

It is important that your treating doctor gain access to some of your past medical records, or records from other doctors, as he or she may need to review diagnostic results from an MRI, CT scan, or X-Ray, and without consent from you, doing so may not be possible.

Additionally, it is important that you allow your attorney access to your records, as he or she will also need to thoroughly review all of them when determining the value of your claim.

The insurance company may also request your medical records, but it is best to discuss what to disclose to them with your attorney, as insurers like to pry through your entire medical history for any excuse to deny your claim.

Can a Lawyer Get My Medical Records without my consent?

No, a lawyer cannot get your medical records without your consent, as you have the right to keep your personal health records private. However, you may provide written permission to your lawyer to review your medical records.

The insurance company may also request your medical records, but it is best to discuss what to disclose to them with your attorney, as insurers like to pry through your entire medical history for an excuse to deny your claim.

How Far Back Can an Insurance Company Request Medical Records?

The insurance company can request medical records related to your injury, but they cannot request your entire medical history. They are typically limited to the past few years, but this may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

Workplace Accident Medical Records

If you were injured on the job, your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company may request your medical records. It is important to talk to your attorney before releasing any medical records related to a workplace accident.

Am I Obligated to Release My Medical Records?

You are not generally under any legal obligation to release your full medical records when you file an injury claim. However, you may be compelled to do so if the liable party asks a judge to intervene. This usually occurs when a lawsuit has been filed and the process of discovery begins. During this process, each side can ask the other to produce important documents and information to help support their side of the dispute.

If the liable party requests medical information from you, it is your responsibility to either comply and produce that information or object to what is being asked. Objecting to a request for discovery must have a legal justification, though, so you cannot simply fail to comply because it would not serve your best interests.

Fortunately, our attorneys know what medical records can be requested and disclosed during the discovery process, and a request for a robust medical history may be something that you can object to, depending on the facts of your case.

Why Should I Release My Medical Records?

Releasing your medical records, or at least part of them, may be important to help establish the validity of your case and help you build a strong case for maximum compensation.

This is because your medical records are often one of the most important pieces of evidence in an injury case. Disclosing the medical treatment that you required after an accident not only proves you suffered an injury, but it also helps establish how much the liable party is financially responsible for.

Furthermore, disclosing your medical records may help establish that you did not have a preexisting injury or condition, which could also help maximize your compensation. One of the insurance company’s most common excuses for devaluing a claim is that a preexisting ailment caused your injuries and not the accident caused by the at-fault party.

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Medical records are generally one of the most important pieces of evidence in a personal injury case. However, injury victims need to make sure they are not disclosing too much so they can help protect their claim.

That is why you should strongly consider speaking to one of our attorneys before you sign a blanket HIPAA release allowing the insurance company to have complete access to your medical records.

Our attorneys have decades of experience dealing with insurers and know the tactics they use to deny or devalue injury claims.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your claim and charge you nothing while we work on your case, so there is no risk to you.