When you or someone you love are injured as a result of the negligence of another, the first and highest priority is treatment and recovery.
However, after treatment and recovery, many people are unaware of how to move forward or what steps to take next. This article will give some basic guidance on those next steps.
Doctors, Hospitals and Other Medical Providers
When someone suffers personal injury, whether in a car accident or as a result of poorly maintained property, they are often taken to the hospital by ambulance. Once there, if the injury is not critical, imaging, such as x-rays or MRIs, are done.
These images are then reviewed by a doctor and a recommendation for treatment is made, whether that be surgery, at-home recovery, or physical therapy. Nearly every step of this process is handled by different businesses (e.g., EMSA, the hospital, the company who owns the imaging equipment, the doctor who reviews the images, the doctor in the emergency room).
Each of these businesses bill for the services provided to the injured party. Once the chaos of the injury-causing event has settled, it is prudent to try and make a list of the different providers that have interacted with the injured party, to the extent they are known.
This will assist the injured party’s attorney in promptly retrieving medical records for evaluation of the case. It will further provide a list of entities for which the lawyer will send letters of representation so that medical bills will not be sent to a collection agency, potentially having a negative credit impact.
An injured party’s social media account can be one of the largest areas for an opposing party to use for attack. Posts which the injured party believes are harmless can be used by the attorney representing the negligent person to erode the injured party’s case.
In a personal injury lawsuit, a jury may view the social media posts differently than the injured party. It is wise to consider deactivating all social media accounts until the conclusion of the lawsuit. HOWEVER, completely deleting an account should never be done because it could be considered destroying evidence in some cases.
After an injury occurs, if the at-fault party has insurance the insurance company will contact both sides as part of its investigation of the claim. The insurance adjustor typically asks both parties to give a recorded statement of the injury-causing event.
These statements are not mandatory, and the injured party can refuse to give the statement. Refusing to give the statement is advisable because these statements can be used as evidence if a lawsuit is filed as result of the injury.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), an injured party’s medical records are confidential and private and cannot be accessed without proper authorization from the injured party.
It is common practice for the insurance company investigating a personal injury claim to send a medical authorization for the injured party to sign, so that the insurance company can gather medical records related to the injury.
While it may be proper to give the insurance company some medical records, the authorizations are typically unlimited in time and scope when they should be limited to the time frame and injuries caused by the injury-causing event.
The injured party should have a lawyer review the medical authorization to ensure that it is properly limited, and to ensure that the insurance company does not unnecessarily gain access to all of the injured party’s medical records to which it is not entitled.
If you, or someone you love, has been injured, call the attorneys at Ball Morse Lowe, PLLC today at 405-701-5355 to discuss your case.