One key to succeeding with any personal injury insurance claim or civil lawsuit is proving that an injury occurred. Medical records establish this fact most directly and convincingly, but the records must be used wisely. The lawyer who advises and represents the injury victim must also protected his client’s medical records from being misused by the defendant’s legal team.
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Enter the Virginia personal injury lawyer. One of our most important jobs is to make sure that the information in our client’s medical records works to their advantage during settlement negotiations or in court testimony. This job starts by following and enforcing state laws on medical records access and privacy.
Without getting to far into the legal weeds, only a patient/personal injury plaintiff or the individual to whom the patient/plaintiff has given power of attorney can authorize access to his or her medical records. Granting access to one’s own attorney should be a first step, as this allows the lawyer to start building a solid case based on diagnoses, prognoses, surgical interventions and treatment plans.
Another early — and ongoing — step is to decline all requests from insurance company adjustors to obtain the medical records. Such requests usually include language that authorizes the release of the entire file on a patient. Agreeing to such a request lets that insurance company go as far back in the injured person’s life as necessary to make an argument that the current injury is actually a preexisting condition.
A Virginia personal injury attorney will share the necessary and relevant medical records information, but nothing else. The lawyer will also work with appropriate health care exerts to interpret the records, calculate current and future medical expenses, and prepare reports and testimony regarding the effects of the injury on the client’s ability to work and live normally.
The final step involves converting the records information and the experts’ reports into displays for mediators, arbitrators, judges and jurors — whoever sits in judgement of a claim. The displays can take many forms, ranging from photographs and posters to PowerPoint presentations and videos. Whichever method is most effective for conveying the seriousness of the injury to individuals who are not health care professionals is the method the Virginia personal injury lawyer will use.
After graduating cum laude from law school at the University of Richmond, Seth practiced personal injury law out of Roanoke, Virginia and in Hampton, Virginia before joining Shapiro & Appleton where he represents personal injury clients in both state and federal courts. In 2016, he was named as a Virginia “Rising Star” lawyer by Super Lawyer’s magazine, an honor bestowed upon only 2.5% of attorneys in the state.