Medical records are the focus of many personal injury cases, since the claimant is seeking compensation for injuries ("damages") from the at-fault party. Where the injured person sought medical treatment for physical injuries, the doctor or hospital will have records of all treatment and medical bills. And at some point in the claim or lawsuit, the injured person or the "other side" (the at-fault party) will want to see those medical records.

In your request for medical records, you must include certain personal information including the patient's name, SSN, date of birth, etc. You should also specify whether you want specific records, records during a certain date range, or simply all records. Your attorney can request the records if you give written permission that is signed and dated. The requests can be faxed or sent via U.S. mail. Most medical providers charge a fee to copy and send the records. Depending on the medical provider, you may be required to pay the fee before the records are released.

Each state has specific standards for acquiring medical records for a legal purpose. When drafting a medical records subpoena, you must be aware of state laws and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requirements.

There are several advantages to having all medical records relating to a personal injury case:
* It allows both sides to assess the physical injuries and the viability of a particular case;
* It provides proof of physical injuries;
* It helps to calculate damages sustained by the injured person;
* It allows a medical expert to analyze the records to determine the cause of the injuries or, in a medical malpractice case, to determine whether doctors exercised reasonable care; and
* It helps the alleged at-fault person avoid paying for preexisting injuries.

If you or a friend or family member has a personal injury claim and has questions about obtaining medical records as part of the claim, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help.