If you’ve been involved in some kind of personal injury accident and are considering filing a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party, you may have started doing some research into how that process works. If that’s the case, you’ve likely come across several pieces of advice that specifically state the importance of keeping good medical records.
While this advice is accurate, but it might not be particularly useful to you if it doesn’t explain what “keeping good medical records” actually involves. There are going to be a lot of records from a variety of sources arising as your case progresses. So we’re here to set those records straight.
Why You Should Keep Good Medical Records
After you’ve been involved in any sort of accident like a car crash, dog bite, or premise liability scenario whereby another person or entity has caused you physical harm, you’re likely going to need medical attention. And if the responsible party has done enough harm to cause you outstanding injury that is costly to address, you are legally entitled to receiving compensation from them or their insurance provider. This compensation is what will help you to recover the costs of addressing your injuries and other damages.
The process of receiving such compensation often involves sharing evidence of the injuries you’ve suffered, and how they are negatively affecting your life. It’s for this reason that the medical records detailing exactly what your injuries are and the necessary treatments and expenses to address them are so important to have. Without them, you and your lawyer will have a much more difficult time arguing your position to the defendant’s lawyers, their insurance team, and potentially to a case mediator or a courtroom judge.
Beyond the uses of good medical records within the context of your legal claim or case, it’s also inherently wise to always keep good medical records for yourself. You never know when you, your doctors, or some other specialists may need to refer back to these records in order to help you continue down a useful path of recovery. Having thorough and accurate records will only make your healing process that much easier in the long run, even well beyond the time your personal injury claim may come to a conclusion.
Specific Medical Records You Should Gather
Aside for more broad accident records that include things like police reports, photos of the accident or crime scene, and car repair records (if they apply to your situation), the right medical records may be one of the most important types of documentation for you to acquire during this process. But medical records are broad. And as you continue to address your personal injuries, you’ll likely come to find that your various medical records are resulting in hundreds of pages that document every processes involved.
While it’s important to keep every piece of documentation you can that relates to your accident and your injuries—at least for the time being—there are certain pieces of medical records that you’ll want to make sure you keep close track of and make readily available to share with those parties who need them to do their job (for example, your personal injury attorney). Such important medical records may include:
- Diagnostic records related to the injuries you suffered from the accident.
- Emergency medical service records such as ambulance, paramedic, and emergency room treatments.
- Any test results, lab results, scans, X-rays, or other visual depictions of your injuries.
- Medical reports or letters written by your physician, other medical specialists, or for other medical consultations.
- Any physical therapy records for the duration of as long as you require therapy.
- Any and all of the bill and receipts related to the above items.
The process of treating extensive injuries requires a lot of paperwork. But if you can wade through all of those additional pages and pull the specific, highly relevant information listed above, you will help to hopefully streamline the process of being assigned the compensation you deserve.
How to Go About Gathering Medical Records
Now that you know why certain medical records are important to obtain and have a general sense of which of those records may be the most important to your case, you’re probably wondering how to go about asking for these records, and where to keep them.
Just about everything is digital these days, and the same is largely true for the medical industry. However, having your personal medical records in both digital and print formats is an excellent idea—just in case something should happen to one or the other.
No matter what form you might be seeking them in, by and large, both your medical provider as well as your health insurance provider should be proactive and fairly forthcoming about giving you the records that pertain to the treatment of your injuries. Summaries and information about your medical treatments, prescriptions, therapies, and consultations will most often come directly from your doctor’s office. More often than not, you should ask for these items from the administrative staff rather than your doctor themselves. While your doctor can and should write a statement letter if one is required, they are much less dependable to provide you with the exact records you need. Rely on their staff to get those items to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for anything—that’s what they’re there for.
Your health insurance plan when you first signed up for coverage may also be an important piece of documentation to keep on hand for this situation. If for some reason you don’t have it, you can ask your healthcare provider to send you a copy. It’s also more than likely that your healthcare provider will automatically start providing you with a detailed summary of coverage once you file a claim with them. But if for some reason you don’t receive them, or the summaries they’re providing you don’t give necessary detail, once again, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask for more.
Once you begin collecting all the relevant and important medical records you need as your personal injury case progresses, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping them somewhere safe, reliable, and easily accessible. But do remember that these are sensitive documents. If you’re keeping digital files of these records on your computer, consider putting some kind of password protection on your device. And keep duplicate paper copies organized together in a single booklet or binder. For purpose of ease, you can even compile them by sections relating to what they are or what purpose they serve. Then keep these records safe in some kind of lock box or secure drawer.
It may seem like a lot of work to understand, gather, and keep good medical records after you’ve suffered a personal injury, but it is a necessary step. And making sure they’re thorough and organized will only be more useful to the process of getting the compensation you deserve. And the right personal injury attorney like The Whisler Law Firm can help you through every step of that process. We also have years of experience using our clients’ well-kept medical records to the advantage of their cases. So we want to help you too. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with us today.