Medical Records as Crucial Evidence in a Personal Injury Case

May 3, 2023
by We can Help Law

Medical Records are a Vital Piece of the Puzzle in a Personal Injury Case

Medical Records as Crucial Evidence in a Personal Injury Case in New Jersey

Medical records are crucial in a personal injury case because they document the extent and severity of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. These records provide objective evidence of the injuries, their diagnosis, and treatment, which are essential for establishing the damages and compensation owed to the plaintiff.

Medical records can be used to demonstrate the causation of the injuries, i.e., that the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing caused the injuries. They can also be used to prove the severity and duration of the injuries, the extent of the medical treatment required, and the future medical expenses the plaintiff may incur.

Moreover, medical records can be used to counter any allegations made by the defendant regarding the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, if the defendant claims that the plaintiff’s injuries are not severe, medical records can provide objective evidence to the contrary.

The Essentials of Healthcare Documentation after You Have been Injured

Overall, medical records are an essential source of information in a personal injury claim. They can help establish liability, damages, and compensation owed to the plaintiff. If you have been injured in an accident, seeking medical attention and keeping detailed treatment records to support your claim is essential.

Key Information in Your Medical Records That Can Make a Difference in a Personal Injury Claim

Medical records can provide a wide variety of valuable information to support a personal injury claim. There are many categories of medical information that will help build a compelling case. This evidence can provide objective documentation of the plaintiff’s injuries, their severity, and treatment. This information is crucial for establishing liability and calculating the damages owed to the plaintiff.

First, medical records often contain information about the diagnosis of the injury or condition that the plaintiff sustained. This information can help establish the cause of the injury, the extent of the injury, and the appropriate treatment.

In addition, details about the treatment the plaintiff received, including medications prescribed, surgeries performed, and physical therapy sessions attended, can be found in medical records. This information can be used to establish the duration and cost of the treatment and the effect of the treatment on the plaintiff’s condition.

Further, the medical team’s prognosis can provide information about the plaintiff’s expected outcome of the injury or condition. This information can be used to estimate future medical expenses and the impact of the injury on the plaintiff’s quality of life.

Medical records may also contain information about the plaintiff’s medical history. This information can help determine whether the injury or condition was pre-existing, caused by the defendant’s actions, or a combination of both. Lastly, experts can use medical records to support their opinions about the cause of the injury, the extent of the injury, and the appropriate treatment.

Steps to Access Your Medical Records in NJ

There's Critical Information in Your Medical Records When it Comes to a Personal Injury Claim in Monmouth County, NJ

In New Jersey, patients have the right to access their medical records under the state’s Patient Access to Health Records Act. A written request must be sent to the healthcare provider or facility with your medical records. The request should include your name, date of birth, contact information, and the specific records you are requesting. You may be required to provide a copy of your government-issued photo ID to confirm your identity.

The healthcare provider or facility has 30 days to respond to your request. They may provide you with a copy of your records or offer you the opportunity to review them in person. They may charge a reasonable fee for providing a copy of your records. You can request that your records be sent electronically or printed on paper. It is a good idea to specifically request the areas of the records that reflect the timeline necessary.

Be Aware of Your Rights Regarding Medical Records

As a patient, you have certain rights about your medical records. These rights are protected by federal and state laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the New Jersey Patient Access to Health Records Act.

You have the right to access and obtain a copy of your medical records from your healthcare provider or facility within a reasonable timeframe. You can request that your medical records be corrected if you believe they are inaccurate or incomplete. Privacy laws protect your medical records, and your healthcare provider or facility must take steps to protect the confidentiality of your documents. You have the power to know how your healthcare provider or facility uses and shares your medical records. You also have a say as to who has access to your documents.

Can Insurance Companies Access the Information in My Medical Records?

If you file a personal injury claim in New Jersey, an insurance company may request your medical records as part of the claims process. The insurance company will use your medical records to evaluate the extent of your injuries and the medical treatment you received. They may also use your medical records to verify the details of your claim and determine whether the medical treatment you received was necessary and related to your injury.

It’s important to note that in New Jersey, you have the right to withhold certain medical information irrelevant to your injury claim. For example, if you have a history of mental health treatment unrelated to your physical injury, you may be able to keep that information private.

The insurance company may pressure you to sign a waiver that gives them access to your medical records. This is not a good idea. You can give them partial access to your medical records, which can include those in direct relationship to your injuries from the accident, test results and x-rays that show the injury, MRI or CAT scan results that give evidence of your injury, and proof of the treatment you have received, are receiving, and will need in the future. You must consult with your attorney before giving the insurance company access to any information.

Rules on the Admission of Evidence

The admission and application of evidence in a court of law are governed by a set of legal principles known as the rules of evidence. These rules are intended to guarantee the validity, applicability, and fairness of the evidence offered during a trial.

These rules vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of court. However, some common principles apply to most legal systems. For example, the evidence must be relevant to the issues in the case, reliable, and obtained legally. Hearsay evidence, unless an exemption exists, a statement made outside of court that is presented to prove the veracity of the matter alleged is generally inadmissible.

The rules of evidence are essential to ensure that the trial process is fair and accurate. They help to prevent the admission of unreliable or irrelevant evidence that may prejudice the outcome of a case. By ensuring that only admissible evidence is presented, the rules of evidence help to promote the truth-seeking function of the court.

Applying the Rules of Evidence to Medical Documentation in NJ

Adele Konop and Richard Konop, her husband, sued Dr. Ellen J. Rosen in a malpractice case. In the lower court, a judge granted the defendant a summary judgment when it was decided that a notation in Adele’s medical record was made by someone other than Dr. Rosen. It was said that Dr. Rosen verbally relayed the note to another physician, who then recorded it in the patient’s file. The judge said the report and the notation were hearsay, and a summary judgment was entered for Dr. Rosen.

The Konops appealed, and the Appellate Division decided the review would be de novo. This is when the case is looked at “anew”. Usually, appeals are based on a missed law or poor interpretation, but this appeal requires a new hearing. The de novo judicial review is a review of the lower court wherein the appellate court examines the issue from the beginning rather than focusing on the lower court’s decision.

The panel decided that if a jury determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant allegedly made the statement that served as the basis for the notation, then the notation would be allowed. To qualify under this exception, the plaintiff needed to demonstrate that the notation accurately reflected a statement made by the defendant.

Questions About Your Medical Records in a Personal Injury Case in NJ? Call our Monmouth County Law Office Today

A personal injury attorney from our firm can help you get all necessary medical records and decide which records should be shared with the insurance company. We can interview witnesses and map out a solid strategy to get you compensation for your injuries.

Our experienced attorneys are excellent negotiators with all the necessary knowledge to go to court in Holmdel, Howell, Asbury Park, Freehold, Tinton Falls, Brick, Neptune, Toms River, Jackson, Marlboro, Monmouth County, Ocean County, and across the state of New Jersey. The insurance companies are not interested in your health. They are motivated by how much money they can save by giving you the lowest settlement possible. We aim to protect your rights by getting the full amount of damages you are entitled to after an accident.

Time is of the essence. Call our office at 732-825-6120 or contact us online for your free consultation with an attorney on our team.