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Medical Treatment In A Personal Injury Case

A compilation of medical images showcasing a stethoscope, highlighting the theme of "Medical Care in a Personal Injury cases - Lamb & Frischer Law Firm, LLP.Insurance Companies’ Access To Medical History

Prior to filing a lawsuit, the insurance company will only have the information it’s been provided to that point in time. However, once a lawsuit is filed, the defendant, that is, their insurance company, has a right to subpoena and request certain relevant medical records. So, for example, if you slip, fall, and break your foot, the insurance company may be entitled to request records related to any prior foot condition or injury. It wouldn’t be able to retrieve records that are not relevant, like your therapy or cardiology records if you have a foot injury case.

Insurance companies can – and do – use information from these records as part of their defense. This often makes sense. Going back to your broken foot, if your foot was still injured from a prior accident when you have a slip and fall, it makes good sense that the defense is not responsible for the pre-existing injury. They are only responsible for any new injury or exacerbation of injury they caused. Yet, very often, the defense tries to stretch this too far.

There’s a unique thing here that’s worth digressing on slightly – the concept of an unusually susceptible plaintiff or eggshell plaintiff. This is an easy-to-remember way of describing the legal principle that states that a defendant is liable for the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, even if the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition or susceptibility made them more prone to injury than an average person or if the injury is more severe than it would have been for a person without the pre-existing condition. These conditions could be structural, genetic, or related to a medical history.

In legal terms, the defendant is required to “take the plaintiff as they find them.” This means the defendant must compensate the plaintiff for the actual harm suffered, regardless of whether the plaintiff’s susceptibility to injury was known or foreseeable. A relative comes to mind here. They have an extra bone in one of their feet. If their foot were to be injured, they may suffer a worse injury than most people.

Or take construction workers. So many of them constantly have back pain. But a construction worker who may have had some prior back pain who then gets in a car accident and experiences worsened pain to the point that they can no longer work? Now they face a huge loss of wages. They were able to work before and likely could have lasted several more years. But due to the car accident, they can no longer work, and this may be the case for the rest of their life. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in wage loss – gone.

Statute Of Limitations

Most personal injury cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. This is the deadline you’d need to escalate your case and file a claim. If you fail to, you forfeit any legal recourse you’d otherwise have. There are some exceptions to this two-year window, including instances of medical malpractice. Malpractice cases have a one-year cut-off. Other case types, including claims against city counties, state governments, school districts, etc., are limited to a six-month time period in which you’d need to notify the government. There’s a special way of notifying it, too. You’d notify it of your claim through a government entity claim.

There are some circumstances under which deadlines may be extended, too. That being the case, we still always advise to pursue claims as soon as possible. This is perhaps the thing you least want to be wrong about, so it is important to ask an attorney instead of relying on your own research. Extensions can sometimes be granted if you don’t know you have been injured. A common example of this is exposure to a chemical that causes injury after time has passed. Other examples include being in a coma, incarcerated, mentally incompetent, out on military duty, or a minor. If you’re a minor, you have until two years after you turn 18 to file a claim, with certain exceptions like medical malpractice or claims against the government.

For more information on Medical Treatment In A Personal Injury Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 966-4471 today.

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