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If you were in a car accident, you may require extensive medical treatment depending upon your injuries. The medical records documenting your treatment are key to your case - they serve as evidence that you were in a car accident and suffered causally related injuries as a result of it.
Car accident medical records are used in litigation as well as for settlement purposes. They can establish the extent of your injuries and the potential value of your case. In addition to the records related to your current car accident injuries, prior medical records can be brought into your case under certain circumstances. For example, if you were in a previous car accident, or if the prior records are relevant to the injuries you claim to have sustained due to the current accident, these records may become part of the case.
Medical records are important to show that your car accident injuries resulted from the impact of the crash, as well as to demonstrate the severity of them. You cannot be compensated for any injuries that were not caused by the other driver's negligence - unless prior injuries were exacerbated or worsened by it. Typically, car accident-related medical records are obtained during the discovery process of litigation after your lawsuit has been commenced.
Although any records relevant to the car accident could potentially be "discoverable" in litigation, common types of car accident medical records used in personal injury cases can include:
•Ambulance Call Sheets
•Physical Therapy Records and Notes
•Diagnostic Testing Results
•X-rays and MRIs
Billing information may be included with the records, as well as doctors' narrative reports and correspondence.
It is crucial to get medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident and to continue with the treatment plan your doctor prescribes. Not only is it important to follow their orders to get better, it can also strengthen your case. Keep a list of your treatment facilities so that your attorney can order your records when necessary.
It's also important to avoid any "gaps" in medical treatment for your car accident. A "gap" in treatment would arise if you attended several weeks of physical therapy, decided to stop without obtaining your doctor's opinion, and then returned weeks later to continue. Any unexplained gaps in your treatment reflected in your medical records can lead to the defense raising questions about your credibility and the severity of your injuries.
Only medical records within the scope of your accident-related injuries are relevant to the case. This means that medical records for any unrelated treatment you've undergone in the past are generally not admissible in court, and the defense has no right to them.
There are certain instances that prior records and your previous medical history may be germane. If you had a preexisting injury that was exacerbated by the car accident at issue, the records related to the previous injury may be relevant to the case.
The defense may try to use the prior medical records against you - they will likely argue that the defendant cannot be blamed for that particular injury, or that you shouldn't get the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
In cases involving preexisting injuries, you are not entitled to be compensated for the original injury. However, you may be entitled to compensation for an exacerbation of that injury which was caused by the defendant's negligence. You must inform your attorney about any prior injuries so that they can distinguish preexisting injuries from the current car accident injuries and know what arguments the other side will make about them.
If you were injured in a car accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately who can advise you of your legal rights - especially before signing any medical records authorization, release, settlement agreement or other documents requested by the insurance company. An experienced car accident attorney can help you recover the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical expenses, and time lost from work.
The Popick Law Firm has thirty years of experience in obtaining compensation for victims of car accidents. Located in Fresh Meadows, NY, The Popick Law Firm handles personal injury and auto accident cases in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. Contact the Popick Law Firm today for a consultation.