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Why Are Medical Records Important in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?

If you file a slip and fall lawsuit, your medical records will play a vital role in determining whether or not you will secure compensation via a settlement or jury award. This is because your medical records can prove that the fall directly caused your injuries. Furthermore, your hospital bills will substantiate your demand for compensation.

As important as your medical records and hospital bills are, they aren’t the only pieces of evidence needed to prove a slip and fall claim. Your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer may also use other evidence, such as video surveillance footage and eyewitness testimony. It’s essential to fully and honestly answer your lawyer’s questions so that they can properly prepare your lawsuit.

Proving the elements of a slip and fall case

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For any slip and fall lawsuit to be successful, Los Angeles slip and fall lawyers must prove certain elements exist. These elements are:

  • The defendant (the property owner or manager) had a duty of care toward the plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit)
  • The defendant was negligent and breached that duty of care
  • The breach of duty led to the slip and fall accident
  • The slip and fall accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries

Your medical records can’t prove every single element. For example, your lawyer may use other evidence to prove that the defendant was negligent. However, your medical records can prove that the accident caused your injuries.

This is one reason why it’s so important to seek medical care promptly after a slip and fall accident—even if you initially don’t think you’re seriously hurt. Furthermore, if there is a significant gap between the time when the accident took place and the time when a doctor saw you, the defendant may allege that you could have been hurt elsewhere.

Determining your financial losses based on your medical records

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A serious slip and fall accident can lead to significant financial losses. You may be forced to miss time at work, for instance. In some cases, injured victims may even be permanently disabled and no longer able to work. Together with your employer’s payroll records, your medical records can help prove these financial losses. For instance, your doctor may have told you to recuperate at home for a set period after the accident.

And of course, your medical records and hospital bills will prove your financial losses due to necessary healthcare services. They can even play a role in determining your non-economic (non-calculable) damages, which may be awarded for mental anguish. Generally, the more severe a physical injury is, the more likely a plaintiff is to recover damages for pain and suffering.

How Do I Obtain My Medical Records?

Under Federal and California State Law, you have a right to inspect and request copies of your medical records. Those laws have been established to protect the privacy and confidentiality of your records but not to keep you from seeing them. Under Section 123110 of the California Health and Safety Code, an individual needs to submit a written request for their records to the healthcare providers. They must then send copies in response.

In addition, they are allowed to charge a nominal administrative fee to make physical copies of the records, but they cannot deny a legitimate request. Once you submit a written request, your healthcare providers have 15 days to respond and send you a copy of your records.

Your medical records are personal to you. That means that your slip and fall accident attorney cannot submit a request for copies of those records on your behalf without your authorization. This documentation is important because it will help prove some of the damages in a slip and fall accident lawsuit. Therefore, your cooperation is critical.

Your attorney needs to build a solid foundation to recover the compensation you deserve from the property owner whose negligence caused your accident. In most cases, your lawyer will either prepare a written request that you can then sign and deliver to your healthcare providers or ask you to execute a power of attorney that gives them a right to request the records on your behalf.

Almost every health care provider creates and retains medical records electronically with the Epic Systems “myChart” patient portal or another electronic medical record system. In addition, larger healthcare conglomerates might have online mechanisms to give patients access to electronic records instead of mailing copies. Check with your healthcare providers to determine if you can get online access to your medical records.

In all cases, if you have received services from more than one healthcare provider or medical facility, you will need to submit separate requests for your records to each provider and facility.

Follow your lawyer’s advice regarding medical records

After a serious slip and fall accident, you will likely require ongoing medical care. It’s vitally important that you continue to go to all of your follow-up and therapy appointments. Your attorney will need your complete medical records to prove your injuries and losses, including the records stemming from all of the above. In addition, if you fail to go to all of your appointments, the counsel for the defendants could claim that your injuries weren’t as serious as they initially appeared.

Note that slip and fall victims may sometimes visit health providers from different healthcare systems. If you go to a physical therapist in the same hospital where you received the initial treatment, your medical records should be complete. However, if you go to a separate clinic for physical or occupational therapy, your records might not be transferred. You will need to sign a release form to obtain them from each provider. Then, provide copies to your lawyer.

Contact us for a free consultation

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If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you need skilled and experienced legal counsel. Our team at Salamati Law is comprised of results-driven lawyers with a track record of securing multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts in personal injury cases. Contact a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles today. The initial consultation is free of charge.

No Obligation, No Fees Guaranteed, Unless We Win

We are committed to negotiate your case aggressively, strategically and creatively. Personal injury lawsuits are retained on a contingency fee agreement, and plaintiffs will pay no legal fees unless the firm is able to recover damages on your behalf.

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