Medical Records for Your Injury Claim
Medical records are objective evidence when evaluating and attempting to settle an injury claim. Unlike a persons statement, which is subjective and can change over time, a medical record is a document produced by your medical provider at the time you are actually getting medical care. These records will document the day and time of your visit, your physical condition, the injuries you have been previously diagnosed with, what tests have been performed, as well as future treatment options.
Accessing your Medical Records
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs the disclosure of your medical records. HIPAA protects a patients rights to their medical records and the disclosure of such information. A patient can get a copy of his or her own medical records by sending a request to a medical provider. Likewise, a lawyer can access a client’s medical records by sending a request to the medical facility with an appropriate HIPAA authorization completed by the client. The HIPAA authorization may limit the information that can be disclosed as well as the amount of time that the authorization is valid.
Costs to Obtain Medical Records in Georgia
Georgia law governs the charges that a medical provider can pass on to a patient who is wanting a copy of their medical records. OCGA 33-3-33 allows a medical provider to charge $20.00 for administrative duties in searching and retrieving the records, as well as a $7.50 fee for each record that needs to be certified. A provider can also charge the costs of postage and mailing as well as the actual copying costs at the following rates: $0.75 per page for the first 20 pages; $0.65 per page for pages 21 through 100; and $.50 for each page copied in excess of 100 pages. Please know that the amounts change from year to year.
Medical Records Access and Lawsuits
Accident cases can settle with or without filing a lawsuit. There is no requirement that you need to send all medical records when trying to settle your case. An insurance company has no right to ask for your medical records prior to the date of the accident. However, an insurance company can get access to these prior medical records, if you file a lawsuit. Georgia law authorizes the discovery of any relevant information related to your injury claim. Relevant information includes any treatment you may have received prior to your injury. OCGA 9-11-34 allows requests to be sent to third party medical providers instructing them to provide copies of you records. However, you must be notified and have the opportunity to object to such a request. Most times, there is no need to object as a Judge will ultimately rule that such records are discoverable. Your accident lawyer should also obtain a copy of those records to ensure they know your complete medical history. There is nothing more frustrating than finding out that a client lied about prior issues.