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Can Prior Medical Records Be Used as Evidence in Georgia Accident?

By Butler Prather LLP on June 18, 2019

Insurance companies work hard to minimize the payouts they make on personal injury claims. Once the victim proves they do suffer from a medical problem, the insurance company must find another way to reduce the claim. One of the ways they try to do this is by suggesting a pre-existing condition is the real cause of the accident victim’s current condition.

Accident victims often feel like the insurance company does not believe them. The stress from this disbelief adds to their physical and emotional injuries from the accident. However, the insurance company is responsible only to their shareholders, so they must do what is most profitable for their business. Mitigating their losses in payouts is just one way the insurance company maintains their profits and business model.

Prior Medical Records

It Is Just Business – Georgia Regulations

The Federal Evidence Code and Georgia regulations stand in accord. They favor both the admissibility of medical evidence and a general belief that a jury capably interprets medical records. Insurance companies regularly try to demonstrate that pre-existing conditions cause the pain and suffering.

When accident victims have a history of a similar injury, pain, or disease that causes similar symptoms, it is more difficult. Even treatments that could benefit the current symptoms caused by the accident complicate the issue. The personal injury case becomes more complex. But juries usually see through this tactic, when the victim’s attorney makes a strong case.

The Medical Records Accessed by the Insurance Company

In the past, heavy reaction of medical records restricted access to an accident victim’s medical records by the insurance company. Juries saw only small portions of the medical records introduced as evidence in a trial. Health care provider opinions did not count. Opinions are hearsay and therefore are inadmissible in court.

Recent changes to the incorporated rules mean accident victims’ medical records are evidence. Information from before the accident gives the jury the ability to compare the victim’s medical issues to determine if the accident caused their current injuries.

Before releasing medical records to any insurance company, personal injury victims should consult an attorney. The lawyer reviews the medical records. And when a pre-existing condition presents in the case, the lawyer knows what details might work against the claim. Victims should disclose any prior injuries and pre-existing conditions to their attorney. Although the insurance company tries to reduce the claim based on pre-existing conditions, an accident aggravates conditions and makes them worse. Compensation for this aggravation is still part of a personal injury claim.

The insurance company does not require the victim’s entire medical history. Only the part of their medical record relating to the part of your body affected in the accident becomes part of the insurance company’s defense. Attorneys never allow insurance companies unrestricted access to their clients’ medical history. However, lawyers ensure that insurance companies receive exactly the information legally required.

Past Medical Records Work to Reduce Personal Injury Recovery Amounts

Insurance companies first try to prove that the accident victim has no injuries. If the victim proves the details of their injuries the insurance company moves to the next phase to reduce the claim’s value. At this point, the insurance companies aggressively focus on pre-existing conditions to reduce personal injury claim amounts.

In pre-existing conditions cases, the doctor frequently does not clearly state in the medical records that the accident caused the aggravation of the pain. The record from the time of the accident shows a change in the condition, but if the doctor does not note the fact the accident happened it can affect the claim.

Most accident victims have a medical history. Some of that medical history could directly relate to the area of their body injured in the accident. If so, aggravating the condition takes the place of causing the condition in the personal injury case.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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