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How to Obtain Your Medical Records After an Injury

Posted on February 24, 2021 in

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, your medical records are very important. In most cases, your medical records are completely confidential, meaning that you will have to provide permission for another person to examine them. After an accident, however, many people may need to examine them.

In a lawsuit, these records are critical to prove your right to compensation and hold the at-fault party accountable for his or her actions. Obtaining your records can be a lengthy process, but they can provide valuable evidence so you can achieve maximum recovery.

Why Your Medical Records Matter to Your Case

To secure compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to provide clear evidence proving the at-fault party’s negligence. There are four elements of negligence that you and your attorney must prove.

  • Duty: The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
  • Dereliction: The at-fault party breached his or her duty of care.
  • Causation: The duty of care caused your injuries.
  • Damages: You suffered damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, due to the accident.

Your medical records can play multiple roles when proving your right to compensation. First, they establish a record of events following your accident. They also clearly state what injuries you sustained, the severity of those injuries, and the treatment you need to receive to recover from them.

In addition, your accident attorney may want to provide your records to medical experts who can analyze them and provide testimony in your case. All of this information is vital to establish the at-fault party’s breach of duty and the damages you are eligible to claim.

Requesting Medical Records After an Accident

Most medical facilities store adult medical records for several years after a visit. In Illinois, hospitals must store these records for at least 10 years. You have the right to see, request copies of, and amend these records for as long as the facility keeps them in storage. Under Illinois law, however, your healthcare provider owns the actual documents. You only have the right to request copies.

To receive copies of your medical records, you will need to request them directly from the healthcare provider. Each facility should have a system in place to obtain these records; in many cases, you will need to sign a consent form that specifies to whom the facility may release your information and the information they are allowed to release.

You will likely need to provide the following information to receive your records.

  • Your name and any previous names you have used
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your insurance ID or policy number
  • Your contact information
  • The specific records you are requesting
  • The dates of these records
  • Your preferred method of delivery for the records
  • Your signature

In some cases, the facility may refuse to release certain medical records out of concern for your physical health. For example, if you have mental health records on file, the facility may believe that it would be harmful for you to read or view them. If you need these records for your case, speak to your Chicago personal injury lawyer for assistance.

Can an Attorney Help You Access Medical Records?

While your healthcare providers are the only parties who can authorize the release of your medical records, your attorney may be able to assist you through the process. Your lawyer can help you understand where to request your records, the information you need to bring with you, and how you can obtain these documents if your doctor no longer practices medicine. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your options for compensation.