When you retain your personal injury attorney, one of the first things he or she will do is obtain your medical records from any hospitals or other health care providers in order to start building a strong case against the careless or negligence persons who caused your injuries. Medical records are essential to documenting the nature and extent of your injuries and the type of treatment required for you to fully recover from your injuries. Your attorney will need to have your records reviewed by a medical expert, who will be able to give a medical opinion regarding the nature and extent of your injuries.
You have a right to view and obtain copies of your medical records and your personal injury attorney can always subpoena the records from hospitals, clinics, doctors, therapists, or any other medical providers who have treated you. But a subpoena takes time and is not always the most tactful approach for obtaining records; it may be overkill.
Since you have a right to access to your medical records and can request them directly from your various health care providers, an experienced personal injury attorney will, at the outset of representation, have you sign an authorization for release of records and other information. Your attorney can then use that authorization to obtain your records informally from your health care providers without the need for a subpoena, thereby avoiding the potential objections and delays that are commonly associated with the issuance of a subpoena upon a health care provider. In most cases, medical care providers will promptly provide your medical records in response to an informal request accompanied by a patient authorization for the release of records and information.
In order to facilitate your attorney’s investigation and assessment of your case, you can request your records from different providers on your own before you even retain your personal injury attorney. That way, by the time that you interview a couple of attorneys and select the one who you feel comfortable with to represent you, your medical records will already be in preparation and may even be prepared and can be immediately reviewed by your attorney and analyzed by a medical expert witness.
On a case by case basis, I would recommend that a client immediately contact their medical providers and request their medical records before even coming in for an office consultation. This can facilitate the expeditious resolution of your med mal case, since a request from a patient may be dealt with more expeditiously by a health care provider. Requests from a personal injury attorney, which can intrinsically suggest that a lawsuit may be imminent, may be dealt with more cautiously by the medical provider.