How Medical Record Privacy Laws Work In Personal Injury Cases.

May 9, 2013

When a Buffalo personal injury lawyer is hired to pursue damages following an accident, that lawyer  frequently will ask the client to sign written authorizations to obtain medical records. These authorizations are required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.  This law bars doctors, hospitals and other medical providers from releasing any information regarding a patient’s treatment without consent.

Usually, no one else can look at a person’s medical records without permission.  When someone puts their health in question in a personal injury case, however, they give up several privacy rights regarding medical treatment.  This means that not only will the personal injury attorney review the medical records, but the defense also has a right to request and review their own copies of medical records regarding the injured person’s condition.  As a result, the injured person usually will have to sign authorizations allowing not only his or her own lawyer to see the records, but also the defense.

This does not necessarily mean, however, that the defense has a right to look at records regarding treatment completely unrelated to injuries suffered in the accident. When the defense insists on seeing unrelated medical information that an injured person does not want released, the matter may eventually end up in front of a judge. The judge will review the disputed medical records and decide if there is anything in them that the defense has a right to know.

If you have suffered a personal injury, the defense has a right to know about treatment related to your injuries.  They do not have a right to violate your privacy.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 716-400-0000.