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How Do Medical Records Affect Your Injury Claim?

Published in Personal Injury on October 2, 2017

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Claims to pursue financial recovery for personal injuries depend upon documentation of said injuries. It is the injured party’s burden of proof to show that he or she has suffered real, compensable damages in the accident. Proving an injury requires more than showing up in court in a cast or wheelchair. The civil courts demand extensive documentation of your injuries, from the moment you reported your injuries to authorities, to when the case comes before a judge. Your medical records could be the most important element of your claim.

A history of fraudulent personal injury claims has tightened the rules on what type of documentation the civil courts now require for lawsuits. To pursue a claim against someone for an injury, the plaintiff must obtain official medical records that corroborate his or her story. For example, an alleged broken bone must come with medical scans and x-rays that show the fracture in the bone. Medical records from physicians, hospitals, therapists, and specialists are necessary to serve as hard evidence that the plaintiff is not fabricating the injury.

Medical records can tell a story that the defense will have a hard time arguing. They can show the timeline of your injury, how much it has cost in medical bills, and how much of an impact it has had on your life. Medical records can prove to a judge or jury that the injury is real, and that you underwent treatment during recovery. They can also show a doctor’s prognosis for your future medical needs, treatments, and pain and suffering. In the event of a catastrophic injury, medical records can serve as proof that the injury will affect the individual for the rest of his or her life.

Medical records can also serve as evidence that the injuries for which you’re pursuing compensation are not pre-existing conditions. This is a common issue that arises in personal injury claims. The defense may allege that your injuries or pain and suffering stem from a medical condition you had prior to the accident in question. Medical documentation can show that the plaintiff had no health complaints before the accident. Statements from physicians can help plaintiffs who do have pre-existing conditions by giving expert opinions that the injuries are new or from the recent accident.

Determining How Much Your Injuries Are Worth

A plaintiff needs medical records to prove the existence, cause, type, and severity of an injury. Medical records also serve another important purpose – to help determine an appropriate settlement or judgment award. An attorney can use medical records to prove economic and non-economic damages. The record will keep track of financial costs of an injury, such as the price of hospital visits, ambulatory fees, surgeries, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and treatments. It will also record more intangible costs, such as chronic pain.

Quantifying non-economic losses such as physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, and lost quality of life is difficult. The more medical documentation a plaintiff can provide of these losses, the more accurate the compensation may be. Medical records can keep a timeline of overall prognosis, pain inflicted, and recovery time. A judge can use all of this information to determine how much an injury has affected the victim, and how much it will continue to impact his or her future. Medical records are the key to proving an injury and assigning accurate economic and non-economic damages.

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