When you’re involved in a personal injury case, you may wonder about your medical records and privacy. You may already know that HIPAA is a federal law that gives you the right to privacy in your medical records.
It’s important to understand how HIPAA impacts your injury claim, what to expect with your medical records during the claims process, and how your personal injury lawyer must proceed to protect your privacy. Here’s what you need to know about HIPAA and injury claims.
What Is HIPAA?
HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA is a federal law that addresses medical records. Specifically, HIPAA requires individuals and businesses who handle medical records to maintain confidentiality. Those handling medical records may only disclose the records in limited circumstances that are listed in the law. Because HIPAA is a federal law, it applies in all 50 states including Nevada.
Does HIPAA Apply in a Personal Injury Claim?
Yes, HIPAA applies in a personal injury claim. But HIPAA allows disclosure of medical information pursuant to court order. HIPAA laws prevent the release of medical information that isn’t relevant to the claim. It also works to ensure that attorneys handle medical records appropriately during the case.
HIPAA and Personal Injury Claims
If you’re involved in a personal injury case, you should be prepared for the release of some medical information. In an injury case, your medical records are fundamental to your claim. The severity of your injuries, your recovery time, and your medical expenses are all critical to your injury claim. For that reason, your relevant medical records become part of the case. Both sides to the case need to be able to see and inspect the medical records to take the necessary steps in the case.
There are several important exceptions to HIPAA privacy requirements. One exception is a court order. HIPAA exceptions include:
- When there’s a court order in a legal case
- To process payment for medical services
- For public health activities, including tracking communicable diseases
- To make a report to child protective services
- Law enforcement purposes
- If the individual requests their own record
Do I Get to Choose What Medical Records I Release for My Injury Claim?
No, you don’t get to choose what medical records you release in a personal injury claim. The other side has a right to see all of the medical records that are relevant to the case. That doesn’t mean that the other side has a blanket license to view all of your medical records. The records must be related to the dispute.
Of course, the parties may disagree about whether the medical records are relevant to the case. Your attorney is your advocate, and they can help you prevent disclosure of irrelevant information. When you bring a personal injury case, you should be prepared for some of your personal information to become a part of the record. However, your attorney for personal injury claims can help you protect your privacy and prevent unnecessary disclosure of irrelevant information.
Releasing Medical Records in a Nevada Personal Injury Claim
In addition to a HIPAA exception allowing disclosure of medical records pursuant to court order, Nevada law also allows the release of medical records in a personal injury case. Nevada Revised Statute 49.245(4) says that it’s okay to release medical records when they’re relevant to an issue that’s an element of the claim or defense in the case. Both HIPAA and Nevada law require you to provide medical records that are relevant to the injury case.
You may voluntarily provide medical records to the opposing party, or you may provide the records by signing a release. Nevada law 629.061 says that a patient may review their own medical records and request copies. In Nevada, your medical care provider may charge up 60 cents per page for copies. In most cases, the attorneys involved in the case coordinate the release of medical information. When the parties can’t agree, your attorney brings your case to court to ask for the appropriate court order protecting you from an inappropriate release of your medical information.
HIPAA and Your Attorney’s Privacy Obligations
Another important aspect of HIPAA as it relates to a personal injury claim is your attorney’s obligation to keep your medical information protected. As professionals who handle medical information as part of their work, the attorneys involved in the case have the legal obligation to take appropriate steps to prevent unauthorized disclosure of your medical records. 45 CFR § 160.103 applies to attorneys to require them to secure Protected Health Information. Your attorney should have a plan for security risk analysis. Steps that they should take include safeguarding passwords, installing anti-virus software, backing up information on the cloud, and ensuring that only those who need the information can access it.
An attorney also has Rules of Professional Conduct that may interplay with HIPAA and the confidentiality of medical information. Rule 1.6 requires an attorney to keep information private that has to do with the case. An attorney can release information only with the informed consent of the client. An attorney who recklessly discloses a client’s medical information may find themselves in violation of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct in addition to HIPAA.
Las Vegas Attorneys for Personal Injury Cases Involving HIPAA
If you’re hurt in a personal injury case, the interplay of HIPAA and your injury claim is important. Medical records are central to any injury claim. Although the other side can ask for some medical records, HIPAA laws prohibit the release of irrelevant information. In addition, your attorney must take steps to protect the privacy of your medical records and prevent unnecessary access of your medical information.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you address any issues that arise during your case. Medical records are a crucial aspect of your claim. Your attorney can help you manage your case appropriately while gathering the medical evidence that you need to make your claim successful.
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys
The Las Vegas and Henderson personal injury lawyers at Adam S. Kutner & Associates have training in HIPAA and the law. They provide compassionate, skilled legal services that help you address all aspects of your claim. Call today for a confidential consultation about your case.