Posted On: February 15, 2012 by Watts & Herring, LLC

Why Are My Medical Records Relevant In An Alabama Car Wreck Case?

Why do you need to give your medical records to your attorney when you file suit for an Alabama car wreck case?

Clients often wonder why we will need to get their medical records when they hire us to either file suit for a car wreck case or they want for us to negotiate with the insurance company.

We understand the questions about this because our medical records are private and in everyday life we understand that we do not have to give out our medical records.

The reason that the medical records are needed in a car wreck case in Alabama is that if you are making a claim for personal injuries, then your medical records are relevant.

You might think of it this way. I recently applied for some additional life insurance and the life insurance company asked me a series of medical questions. The life insurance company also wanted me to have somebody come by and take blood to check for cholesterol and other similar items.

Now nobody has the right to just come by my office and demand that I give them a blood sample. But when I voluntarily decide to apply for insurance, then my medical condition may become relevant.

In the same way, when we say that somebody’s negligence caused us personal injury – hurt our back, or neck, broke our leg, broke our ribs, etc., - then we have made the issue of our medical condition relevant.

The insurance company who is representing the negligent person, has a right to look at our medical records to see if this an injury we complained about before, to see if the doctor believes that the injury that we say we suffered in the wreck actually came from the wreck, or did we see the doctor about this very injury two weeks before, etc.

Now this does not mean that every medical record from the beginning of time is open to the insurance company. But it does mean that when we make a claim for personal injury, we are “opening the door” for at least some of our medical records to be obtained by the insurance company.

Normally what we do is to have our client sign a medical release form and we go ahead a gather all the records and then we can send that to the insurance company. The releases that the insurance companies typically want to use are too broad and would cover everything including psychological and psychiatric-type records which normally they may not be entitled to receive.

So it’s not a matter of trying to pry unnecessarily but instead it’s that by claiming personal injuries we have said, in effect, to the insurance company and to the court and the jury that we do not have anything to hide and they can look at our medical records to see what we were like before the wreck and then to see how we are now which will assist everybody in determining the appropriate amount of compensation that we should receive.

If you have any questions about this article and you live in Alabama, please pick up the phone and call us at (205) 879 2447 or you can fill out the contact form on this web site to the left.