Medical records are important for personal injury cases where the claimant is demanding compensation for bodily injuries (damages) sustained as a result of the actions (or inaction) of the liable person or entity.


If, as a result of the accident, the injured person sought medical treatment for bodily injuries, the doctor or healthcare facility will have records of this treatment and the medical bills. And at some stage during the personal injury process, the claimant (injured party) or the defendant (the liable person or entity) will need to obtain copies of these medical records.


This article gives a step-by-step guide to retrieving your medical records from your health care provider.

Retrieving your Health Care Records

First of all, here are the main reasons why you might need to retrieve your medical records for  a personal injury claim or lawsuit:


  • To prove that you have suffered an injury (damages);
  • To be used in calculating the amount of damages you have sustained;
  • To aid in establishing the cause of your injuries or, in the case of a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit, to ascertain whether health care professionals exercised reasonable care when treating you.


When you need to access your medical records it is best to follow state guidelines and procedures to avoid delays. Typically, this will require you to do the following:


  • Contact your health care provider
  • Make a written request
  • Provide your medical identification number
  • Provide personal information

Retrieving Your Medical Records

First of all, you must follow the state guidelines for requesting your medical records, which might need to be transferred from a number of different sources. Each state has its own specific guidelines for requesting medical records from health care providers within that particular state. But, in general, the following steps must be taken:


Step 1: Call your health care provider to get information regarding how you can get access to your medical records. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) assures you access to your medical records and most healthcare providers will provide you with a request form that you can use to authorize their release.


Step 2: Request your records in writing. Name the health care provider and include your medical identification number. Provide your complete name, date of birth, social security number, and (if you know it) your patient number.  State the purpose of your request, the date you were treated and documents that you would like to receive: Physician’s and nurse’s notes, test results, prescription records, and/or records of consultations with any other healthcare professionals.


Step 3: Request that the information is supplied within 30 days or to be sent a letter specifying the reason for the delay. Also, add a date by which you expect your request to be fulfilled.


Step 4: Pick up your records, which may also require paying a fee. HIPAA allows you healthcare provider to charge fees for making copies and postage, but not for searching for your records.


Step 5: If after requesting your medical record you are denied access, you should file a complaint with the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, as well as, with state regulators to further request that your documents be released.


This article provides only a brief overview of to the topic. The laws pertaining to the retrieval of medical records for use in a personal injury claim or lawsuit can be complicated. Add to this the fact that each state has its own specific guidelines and procedures, and it is evident that you might require the assistance of an experienced professional to retrieve these documents.