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How Your Prior Medical Records and Earnings Records Can Be Used in Litigation



When you start a lawsuit for personal injuries, the other side is given substantial access to information about you to determine whether your claims are legitimate. One area where defendants' attorneys are sure to look is in your prior medical records. Doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, hospitals and others maintain records of all your visits. Early in your case, you will be required to provide signed authorizations, which allow defense attorneys to obtain copies of all these records.

They will look for things like prior injuries to the body parts you claim were injured in the accident. Your comments to medical providers about how you are feeling are written down and will be read by your adversary's lawyers. How often you showed up for treatment and the number of times you canceled appointments will also be reviewed. All this information will be reviewed and compared to what you tell defense attorneys when questioned during depositions and during trial. If the records contradict what you or your doctors are saying at trial, you can be sure the opposing attorneys will point this out to the judge and jury.

Other records your opponents will look for are records of your prior wage-earning history. If you lost time from work due to your injury and claim that you lost wages because of it, they will obtain your employers' records to confirm this. A smart defense attorney will also obtain records of all your prior employers to see if they contain any evidence that can help their case, such as prior injuries or substantial absences from work. You can also expect your adversaries to get copies of your prior tax returns along with your Social Security records to see what your work history has been like. If you are claiming that you can no longer work and that you were regularly earning $50,000 per year, these records will either support your claim or allow your opponents to poke holes in it.

Because of the extensive information your opponents are allowed to dig up on you, it is of utmost importance that you tell your attorney about everything in your past medical history and earnings records that could have any effect on your case. If your attorney knows there is a problem, he or she can deal with it effectively. The last thing you want is for your own attorney to be surprised with it at trial.