March 4, 2014 • Legal Terminology
On behalf of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP
We are often asked about how to protect confidential medical information when pursuing a personal injury claim in New York.
The short answer is … beware. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, you are exposing your entire confidential medical, and possibly psychological, history and records to the defense.
In most cases, the court will require you to sign an authorization allowing the insurance company, or their defense attorneys to obtain your medical records.
The New York City injury attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, and Wolff fight to make sure our clients only give authorization for information that is related to your accident.
Insurance companies want to examine the paperwork that documents your pre-existing injuries in order to determine if you have had past medical issues with the parts of your body that include your newly claimed injuries—regardless if the pre-existing injuries are even 10 years old.
The Claims Information Bureau (CIB) defends subscribed firms and insurance companies by providing information about your past PI claims. The CIB will reveal all of the injuries previously claimed by you, as well as who represented you and the settlement amount. This information is accumulated and shared among all of the insurance companies and investigative firms defending injury claims.
This makes it easy for an insurance company investigator to send a subpoena or contact the law firm that defended the old case to obtain your old claim file and all of the documents in it. Often times your old injuries will appear far worse on paper because your then-lawyer was gathering every bit of information to help you win your case.
Denying that the prior claim exists when you have filed it and collected money is really not an option. Doing this will essentially end your current claim.
Some clients believe if they go to a different lawyer for the new claim then they can hide the fact that they had a prior accident and claim. It doesn’t work. The minute you file a claim, your name social security number and other personal information is run through the CIB and your previous claim is easily discovered.
Confidentiality of medical records is largely waved when you bring a lawsuit claiming injuries. If you claim that you are depressed or psychologically harmed as a result of your accident and injuries, then any previous psychiatric treatment or counseling would have to be revealed.
The important point to understand is that previous injuries recorded in your medical records are likely to surface from your general medical history, medical insurance payment records, or your treating family doctor.
The New York City injury attorneys at RMFW Law recommend that you speak candidly to your attorney so that they can advise you properly about revealing your past injuries. If the injuries were pre-existing there may still be a claim for an aggravation of an old injury, but if you are claiming an aggravation, it must be presented in the proper manner with the proper medical documentation.
Speak with the New York City injury attorneys at RMFW Law today to get a confidential consultation regarding your case. Together we can make your case a strong one—with the correct legal advice!