Importance of Medical Records in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Slip and fall accidents, with over 8 million annual emergency room visits, are some of the leading causes of unintentional injury. They often lead to long hospital stays, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery or lifelong medical complications.
If you’ve suffered slip and fall injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you could have a valid case for seeking compensation. You’ll need medical records for the lawsuit to strengthen your claim, like hospital bills, treatment plans, and prescription orders. These documents play a crucial role in substantiating your injuries, evaluating the extent of damages, and securing a fair settlement.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our slip and fall attorneys will use your medical records to validate your injuries, link them to the accident, and maximize compensation for your losses.
Types of Medical Records for Lawsuits
Your attorney will help you gather important medical records for your slip and fall lawsuit, which may include the following:
- Medical charts. These include detailed notes on your condition, treatments, and progress over time from primary care providers, hospitals, specialists, or physical therapists.
- X-rays and imaging reports. These include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other imaging showing your injuries and the provider’s diagnosis.
- Doctor’s notes. Detailed observations from your doctor, including specific injuries identified, treatment plans, and recovery prognosis.
- Prescription records. Lists all medications prescribed, their purposes, dosages, and duration for injury-related treatments.
- Physical therapy records. Records of each physical therapy session, including exercises performed, progress made, and therapist’s observations.
- Medical bills. Detailed breakdown of all medical expenses incurred, including each treatment, procedure, and medication cost.
- Emergency room records. Specific details of immediate care received post-injury, including initial assessments, treatments administered, and recommendations upon discharge.
- Specialist consultations. Notes from specialist doctors, such as orthopedic surgeons or neurologists, providing expert opinions on specific aspects of your injury.
- Psychological evaluations. Detailed assessments of psychological impacts stemming from the injury, such as trauma, stress, or depression.
- Hospital discharge summaries. Comprehensive overviews detailing the condition at discharge, a summary of treatments received, and follow-up care instructions.
- Medical liens. Documents outlining claims on your compensation by healthcare providers or insurers to cover the costs of your medical treatments.
Why Medical Records are Essential in a Lawsuit
Your medical records are the most important evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. Without them, you may not have a basis for a claim. Here’s why medical records for a lawsuit are essential to winning fair compensation:
- Proof of injury. Medical records provide evidence that you suffered injuries, which is fundamental to any personal injury claim. Without this evidence, it’s challenging to establish that an injury occurred.
- Detailing the extent of injuries. These records outline the nature and severity of your injuries, such as fractures, sprains, or internal injuries, demonstrating how seriously you were affected.
- Linking injuries to the incident. Medical records help prove that your injuries are directly related to the specific slip and fall incident, not pre-existing conditions or unrelated events.
- Documenting treatment and recovery. These records provide a complete history of all medical treatments you receive, from initial emergency care to long-term therapy, demonstrating the extent of medical intervention needed for your recovery.
- Justifying medical expenses. Thorough care records offer a detailed account of all medical costs incurred, which supports your claims for these expenses as part of your compensation in the lawsuit.
- Supporting pain and suffering claims. Medical records can help illustrate the physical and emotional pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the injury, maximizing your claim.
- Proving long-term impacts. Medical records play a role in evaluating the potential long-term or permanent consequences of your injuries, such as chronic pain or disability, which can impact the compensation you may be entitled to receive.
- Influencing settlement negotiations. These records are frequently used in negotiating settlements, and cases with more severe injuries and thorough documentation often result in higher compensation offers.
- Supporting expert testimony. Medical records serve as a factual foundation for any medical experts who may testify in your case. This allows them to offer well-informed opinions regarding the nature of your injuries, the suitability of the treatment, and the outlook for your recovery.
The Process of Obtaining Medical Records
To obtain medical records for your slip and fall injury case, you can request them independently or enlist the assistance of an attorney who can ask for them on your behalf.
We can gather all necessary medical records for your case using signed HIPAA release forms to request information from every healthcare provider involved in your treatment.
This includes hospitals, specialty clinics, therapists, and other qualified caregivers. Here’s our process:
- Request records. Healthcare providers have established protocols for releasing medical records. Your attorney will adhere to these procedures to obtain all relevant documentation that outlines your treatment, expenses, and the lasting effects of your injuries.
- Secure records. Once obtained, we will securely upload digital copies of your medical records into encrypted case file databases. These databases are designed to protect sensitive healthcare information while allowing for the thorough analysis and organization of your medical data.
- Organize for legal use. The digital format aids in organizing and presenting your medical records for legal proceedings. Your attorney will prepare diagnostic films, physician testimonies, treatment cost tables, and other relevant documents to use as evidence during settlement negotiations or in court.
- Preserve records integrity. Our process protects your sensitive healthcare data, ensuring your medical records are preserved in their original state with a transparent chain of command, preventing unauthorized alterations and maintaining their validity as legal evidence.
Case Study: The Impact of Medical Records in Slip and Fall Lawsuits
The case of Holly Averyt v. Walmart, which occurred in 2013, highlights the importance of medical records in obtaining compensation for a slip and fall. Truck driver Holly Averyt experienced a spinal disc rupture, nerve damage, and mobility loss after slipping in a Walmart warehouse.
Her lawsuit rested on the strength of her medical records, which detailed her injuries, treatments, and the long-term effects on her health. These records were instrumental in substantiating her claim, leading to an initial jury award of $15 million.
While the final award was ultimately reduced to just under $10 million due to state-imposed limits on damages, this case serves as a testament to the significance of comprehensive medical documentation in ensuring fair compensation.
Eileen Kroll, senior partner attorney and registered nurse at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., brings a unique perspective to analyzing medical records. Her medical and legal background allows her to link each medical report and treatment note to the incident, solidifying the connection between the injury and the accident.
This thorough and insightful approach is crucial in building a solid personal injury claim, helping you receive the compensation you deserve.
Secure Fair Compensation with Comprehensive Medical Documentation
Maintaining thorough and detailed medical records is vital in a slip and fall lawsuit, as they substantiate your case by confirming the cause of your injury, quantifying your losses, illustrating your pain and suffering, and countering any allegations of prior health issues.
To ensure the best outcome in your lawsuit, promptly seek medical care, follow your treatment plan, and meticulously document every aspect of your medical care and related expenses.
Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you gather and present these records effectively, increasing your chances of a fair settlement. With a collective experience spanning over five decades, our team will carefully review all medical records for your lawsuit, helping you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we will support you throughout the legal process.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.