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Why Medical Records Matter in a Catastrophic Injury Case

When severely injured victims or their loved ones contact the attorneys at Perry Charnoff PLLC, one of the first questions they often ask is, “What is the value of my case?” Understandably, people want to know what kind of prospects they have in terms of compensation and whether that compensation will justify the long and complex legal process that often accompanies a catastrophic injury lawsuit.While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a few key factors that have a major impact on the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit, and the victim’s medical record is one of them. A complete, thorough medical record can mean the difference between a verdict or settlement that adequately addresses the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, financial losses, and pain and suffering or an outcome where the person has to settle their case for much less than they hoped.

Your Medical Record and Your Story

In the eyes of the court, your medical record is the document that establishes your story, including how your injury occurred, what effects it had on your health and well-being, and the steps you took to recover as best you could. Judges and juries use medical records to verify the existence and extent of injuries and medical conditions and to set the damages associated with those conditions.

In general, your medical record should include:

  • Admitting charts and notes
  • The results of any diagnostic tests, including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, blood tests, etc.
  • Diagnosis and prognosis for any injuries and conditions
  • Physicians’ and nurses’ notes
  • A record of all consultations and referrals
  • Any bills you incur as a result of medical treatment or therapy related to your accident
  • All other information related in any way to your treatment

If you file a personal injury claim, the insurance company will want to see your medical record, but they’ll also usually ask you to submit to an independent medical examination by a doctor of their choosing. The law compels you to agree to their request if you want to seek compensation, but you can expect that they’ll choose a doctor who will search for inconsistencies in your account and will most likely give an assessment of your health that’s favorable to their defense.

This is one of many reasons why it’s important to work with an experienced legal team for your catastrophic injury case. A knowledgeable attorney can prepare you for this examination and keep you from getting tripped up by probing, on-the-spot questions from the insurance company’s doctor.

Here’s How You Can Create the Most Accurate Medical Record Possible

While we frequently help our clients organize and compile complex medical records across multiple doctors and healthcare settings, the only person who can create an accurate medical record for your case is you. And that ideal medical record for your catastrophic injury case begins the moment after your accident when you first receive treatment for your injuries.

To make sure your medical record is as complete and thorough as possible, make sure you follow the tips below throughout your journey of treatment and recovery.

(Note that in many catastrophic injury cases, the victim is left severely disabled, and the responsibility for keeping a thorough medical record falls to a loved one; all the material in this article applies equally for the primary caretakers of catastrophic injury victims).

  • Give your doctor a complete list of your symptoms and pre-existing conditions. Your doctor needs to know about every single aspect of your post-accident health, including any pain or other symptoms, when those symptoms started, and what limitations you’re experiencing due to your injuries.It’s also important to give your doctor access to all your previous medical records and provide every detail you can about your health before the accident, including any pre-existing conditions. While you can’t receive compensation for medical conditions and health issues that existed in the same state before your accident, you can receive compensation for those conditions to the extent that the accident made them worse — but only with accurate and thorough documentation from a medical expert.
  • Keep all your follow-up appointments. Any catastrophic injury will require numerous follow-up appointments with your primary care physician and often with other specialists as well. It’s absolutely critical to keep these appointments; if you miss them or stop adhering to your treatment plan, the insurance company will use this against you and argue that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim.During your follow-up appointments, make sure to keep your healthcare providers completely up to date about your overall health and any symptoms, limitations, or other issues you’re experiencing, just as you did in your first appointment. Building a thorough and accurate medical record is an ongoing process, and it requires complete disclosure and attention to detail on your part every time you receive medical treatment.
  • Contact an experienced catastrophic injury attorney as soon as possible. While you’re the only one who can build your medical record, it’s in your best interest to seek help from an experienced legal team when compiling that record. It takes a great deal of work to track down all the medical professionals involved in a catastrophic injury case, acquire all the relevant records, and assemble them for the purposes of a lawsuit. Many healthcare providers will also charge you a fee for processing, copying, and releasing your records. While you may be able to do this work on your own if you’re extremely dedicated and have a lot of time on your hands, it’s likely to create a lot of stress, frustration, and out-of-pocket expenses.At Perry Charnoff PLLC, our legal team has years of experience compiling medical records for catastrophic injury cases, and when you work with us, you can feel confident that your case is in good hands. We’ll contact every medical professional you’ve visited and work with their staff to secure the release of all your records. Then we’ll take care of the time-consuming work of assembling the information and filing a personal injury claim while you focus on your health and recovery.

Contact Perry Charnoff PLLC If You’ve Been Injured

If you or someone you know has suffered a CATASTROPHIC INJURY in Virginia, Washington, D.C., or Maryland, the attorneys at Perry Charnoff are here to help you through the complex process of a personal injury claim, including the time-consuming work of gathering and organizing your medical record.

We use our years of trial experience and our extensive network of medical experts to advocate for victims and hold the negligent parties who caused their injuries accountable. Call us today at (703) 291-6650 or FILL OUT OUR ONLINE CONTACT FORM so we can schedule a free, no-risk consultation today.