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Requesting Your Medical Records For A PI Claim

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If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, one of the first things you should do, after the initial healing process, is to seek copies of your medical records. Both an insurance claim and a personal injury lawyer may require copies of those records, albeit for different purposes, yet it can seem very difficult and intimidating to get them. To get a claim of any kind going, though, you must be able to request your records and then ensure they are sent to the right spot.

Making The Request

Actually asking for records from your medical provider is much easier than one might think, especially since most medical professionals are well versed in handling such requests.You can do it, or your legal representative can do it – many doctors and hospitals will ask for proof that they actually represent you, but once that is satisfied, the process should go forward. When you or your attorney make the request, though, it is critical to request as many records as possible surrounding your current injuries and treatment – the more information you are able to provide to your insurer, or to have in your pocket for trial, the better.

Some patients may balk at this, fearful of being forced to pay large amounts for their copies, but federal law actually prohibits such practices. HIPAA actually states explicitly that medical providers are only able to charge “reasonable, cost-based fees,” meaning that while charges like postage and supplies can be factored in, other fees cannot. Florida law, meanwhile, holds that no medical professional can hold records hostage until their fee is paid, which used to be common practice. While the costs for medical records might still add up, it is worth the money, since without them, your claim has almost no chance of succeeding.

Protect Your Privacy

The state of Florida has laws surrounding medical authorizations, but the federal Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) also applies. While your insurer or your attorney (or both) may require certain medical records of yours, it is critical to protect your privacy so your medical history cannot be used against you. Florida’s laws surrounding medical records are fairly strict, prohibiting anyone save the patient or the patient’s legal representative to receive medical records without the patient’s written consent. HIPAA does contain some loopholes which allow a doctor to hold back information, however – for example, any personal notes they made regarding your case are considered work product, rather than medical records, which means they are not able to be requested by insurers or attorneys.

Be advised that sometimes, insurers will use document releases to nefarious ends. At some point, your insurer will probably request that you sign a release for those records – if this occurs, it is critical to ensure that the release is limited, rather than expansive. Many insurers will exploit an overly broad records release and look for preexisting conditions or other reasons to deny a valid claim; this is especially true if you are asked to sign a HIPAA release rather than a Florida-specific release, as they can have very broad language.

Can A Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?

Personal injury lawsuits can be drawn-out and complex, and requesting medical records is usually only the first step of what can be a long journey. Most people need an experienced attorney to help guide them through the process. The Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group will work hard for you and try to get you to a point where you can focus on the important things – healing from your injuries. Call us today for a free consultation.

Resources:

flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/456.057

hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/353/if-patients-request-copies-of-medical-records-are-they-required-to-pay-for-copies/index.html

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