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How to Get Medical Records in a Personal Injury Case: Your Guide to Obtaining Medical Records

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2018 | Personal Injury

Regardless of the circumstances of your injury, you will have to request your medical records at some point in your personal injury case. As you may or may not know, medical records are often a key element in a personal injury lawsuit, which is why it is understandable why you are so hell-bent on obtaining your medical records as soon as possible.

But before you go knocking on doors in your local hospital, our California personal injury attorney at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation advises learning more about your rights and tips on getting your medical records in California.

After all, you want to do it properly and by the law, and would not want to give the opposing party the opportunity to say that you broke the law when requesting those medical records of yours.

Why Getting Medical Records Is Important For Your Personal Injury Case

But before we get started, let us explain why obtaining medical records is so important for your personal injury case. There can be multiple reasons. For example, let’s say that you have been injured in a car accident, and the at-fault party is trying to minimize his liability for your injuries by claiming that you had some pre-existing medical condition. Your medical records will show who’s right who’s wrong.

Or, let’s say that the at-fault party’s insurance company is trying to dispute the extent of your injuries. “By providing your medical records, and having a skilled medical professional review and interpret them, you can prove the extent of your injuries after an accident or incident,” explains our experienced personal injury attorney in California.

Who Has The Right To Get Medical Records In California?

So let’s get started. How to get your medical records in California? Under the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), U.S. patients have the indisputable right to obtain a copy of their medical records from any medical provider, though there are a few exceptions.

Under HIPAA, you have the right to request:

  • Your own medical records
  • Someone else’s medical records as long as you can prove that you are a designated representative (that person must give their permission, in writing, to access their medical records)
  • Someone else’s medical records if you are their legal guardian (you must be appointed as the legal guardian to get access to that person’s medical records)
  • Your children’s medical records (unless the child receives medical care at the direction of a court or the child and the medical provider have a confidential relationship)
  • Deceased’s medical records, if you are the representative of an estate or you are related to the deceased (in the latter case, you can get access to some of the deceased’s medical records to see if his or her medical condition relates to your own health)

Why your request to get medical records can be denied

While the HIPAA provides patients with the right to obtain copies of medical records, they also have the right to view their original medical records. Our California personal injury lawyer explains that this usually takes place at the healthcare provider’s office.

However, medical providers do have the right to withhold and deny access to certain types of medical records. These records include:

  • Psychotherapy notes
  • Information and evidence the healthcare provider is collecting for lawsuits
  • Information that the provider reasonably believes could put your life at risk, or endanger the provider’s safety or the safety of another person, including your family members

In California, if you have requested medical records, you must obtain those records within 15 days of your request. If the medical provider denies your request, it must provide you with a denial letter. “You may be able to appeal the denial,” explains our personal injury lawyer California. If it has taken the healthcare provider longer than 15 days to respond to your request or provide copies of the requested medical records, the provider must give you a reason for the delay.

Consult with our lawyers at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation to learn more about getting medical records in your particular case. Call our offices at 818-783-5757 for a free case evaluation.