If you received health care immediately after your accident (i.e., visit to the emergency room, hospital, doctors, etc.), try to get your hands on those medical records AND billing.
If you get into a car accident, your lawyer can't simply contact the insurance company and say, "Hey, give my client $10,000!" The insurance adjuster is going to want "evidence" that substantiates the claim for settlement. They aren't going to write you a check simply because you're a nice person.
While your lawyer can usually get the records and bills, there are times when they might run into a snag. Lawyers will usually have little trouble getting medical records and bills from doctors and facilities that understand the personal injury process and the lawyer's need for records and bills. They "get it." However, in some cases, it will be difficult for your attorney to get the records and bills. Some facilities are essentially downright unresponsive. In those cases, a simple phone call or letter from you to the facility/doctor will be very helpful. Under the law, you are entitled to your own records and bills. They have to provide them to you (they might mail them or you can pick them up). They can't simply ignore you! They might charge you a modest copying fee but otherwise, there are no other charges.
Also, remember that bills and records are two different things. Many times, they will send you one without the other. You may need to contact two entirely different entities to get both. Sometimes the billing is handled off-site. It's not fun but it's necessary when it comes to presenting your claim.
Therefore, while your lawyer can usually get your records and bills, there may be times when your assistance is helpful. Your attorney should ask you to get involved if he/she anticipates a problem with a particular health care provider.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,