If you are involved in an accident, your priority should always be the health, wellness, and safety of those involved. If you have been injured in an accident, you should seek medical attention to ensure your injuries are appropriately addressed and treated.
Another important aspect of seeking treatment is it documents your injuries through medical records. These medical records will oftentimes provide factual support to prove your injuries and assist doctors in giving their opinions regarding your injuries and the permanency of such injuries.
Medical records play a critical role in Minnesota’s personal injury cases. Learn more about the importance of these records here. If you have other questions, our attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC are here to help.
Concrete Proof of Injury
One of the most important aspects of any personal injury case is proving that an injury has occurred. How you prove such injuries is through your medical records, as well as the opinions of your doctors. Medical records document that you sought treatment, the findings of the examination by the doctor or medical provider, what the diagnoses are, what treatment was provided, and what the treatment plan is moving forward. Without proof of injury, your case will not have sufficient factual and legal bases to move forward. Medical records provide undeniable proof that you sought medical attention post-incident and indicate the nature and extent of your injuries.
Minnesota law requires victims to prove that their injuries directly result from the defendant’s actions. In the absence of medical records, linking the injury to the accident can be daunting. Lack of medical records, or large gaps in care can be detrimental to the viability of your personal injury claim. For example, if someone claims a back injury from a car accident but there are no such medical records showing complaints of back pain, the defendant could argue no such injury occurred. Similarly, if the person only has records of treating a back problem months after the incident, the defendant could argue that something else caused the injury.
Gauging the Severity and Prognosis of the Injury
Understanding the magnitude of an injury and its long-term implications is central to determining the potential value of a claim. A brief visit to the doctor might imply a minor injury, while multiple visits, surgeries, or referrals to specialists indicate a more severe situation. Medical records can provide a clear timeline of the victim’s treatment, showing the progression or improvement of their condition.
Determining Medical Expenses
One of the primary components of any personal injury claim is the medical bills the victim incurs. In Minnesota, these records help establish the cost of the injured party’s medical treatment. Without them, it’s nearly impossible for a personal injury lawyer in Minnesota to make a case for the reimbursement of medical costs. Furthermore, lack of medical records may also make it difficult to prove that the injured person will incur future medical bills.
Impact on Settlement Negotiations
Most personal injury claims in Minnesota are settled outside of court. When negotiating with insurance companies, a comprehensive set of medical records can make the difference between a minimal settlement and one that truly covers all the victim’s expenses and pain. Armed with clear and thorough documentation, a personal injury lawyer can leverage this information and documentation to fight for increased compensation on behalf of their client.
Minnesota’s Laws and Statutes
Navigating the intricacies of Minnesota’s personal injury laws can be challenging. However, it is essential to understand your rights if you have been involved in an accident.
Thresholds for Recovering Non-Economic Damages
Under the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act (Minn. Stat. §65B.44), victims can only recover compensation for pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages if their injuries meet one of five so called “no-fault thresholds.” These thresholds include:
- Permanent disfigurement;
- Permanent injury;
- Disability for 60 days or more;
- Medical expenses exceeding $4,000 (excluding diagnostic imaging).
Should a victim’s injuries not meet these thresholds, they cannot pursue non-economic damages like pain and suffering. This distinction makes medical records even more valuable, as they provide the evidence to prove that a victim’s injuries meet one of these thresholds.
Statute of Limitations
In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims based on negligence is generally six years from the date of the accident. This means that those pursuing a claim based on negligence have a six-year window to settle their claim or commence a lawsuit. If they fail to do so within this timeframe, they may lose their right to pursue compensation altogether. Other claims may have shorter statutes of limitations. For example, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is four years. Because of these differing statutes of limitations periods, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that your rights are protected.
Comparative Fault Rule
Minnesota employs a “modified comparative fault” system per Minn. Stat. §604.01. If you’re found to be partly at fault for your injuries, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. Importantly, if you’re deemed more than 50% at fault, you can’t recover any damages.
Medical Records Are Important When Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Understanding Minnesota’s personal injury laws and statutes is crucial for anyone seeking compensation. From recognizing the importance of injury thresholds to being aware of the state’s comparative fault rule, having knowledge of these laws can significantly impact the outcome of a case.
Medical records can help support a case by providing crucial proof and evidence of your injuries. Clear and consistent records will help victims and their personal injury lawyers in Minnesota build a robust, convincing case. Always consult with an experienced attorney for guidance specific to your situation.
When filing a personal injury claim, you should understand that medical records are more than just paperwork; they’re often the backbone of the case. They lend credibility, provide essential details, and, most importantly, act as the bridge between the incident and the injury.
So, if you find yourself injured due to someone else’s negligence, seek medical attention immediately and ensure that every detail is accurately recorded. When the time comes to navigate the legal waters, partnering with a seasoned personal injury lawyer in Minnesota can help you leverage your medical records in the best way possible.
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, our personal injury lawyers are ready to help with your case. We can answer your questions and provide experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. Call our office today to schedule a free initial consultation.