Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by lawyers on behalf of family members who have lost loved ones due to someone's negligence or intent. However, before a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed, your lawyer will need to review your deceased loved one's medical records. However, due to physician-patient privilege and HIPAA laws, obtaining medical records can be challenging, even when the patient is deceased.
Lawyers are able to get medical records, but the process can be a bureaucratic mess. Fortunately, there are a few things that family members can do to obtain the necessary medical records. Here are a few steps you will need to take to obtain your deceased loved one's medical records.
Go to the courthouse
Someone will need to be named as the executor or administrator of the decedent's estate. If there is a will, the executor should be listed in it. If there wasn't a will, the probate court will appoint the closest kin as the administrator. If this is your role, you will receive letters from the court. You can use these letters to show proof that you are legally permitted to obtain any and all documents on behalf of the decedent, including financial documents and medical records.
Go to the hospital and physician's offices
Once you are appointed as the executor or administrator appointed and have the letters in hand, you can then go to the hospital and physician's offices to obtain the medical records. Depending on your state's laws, you may also need certified copies of the decedent's death certificate. You will be asked to sign HIPAA agreements, just as if the medical records were your own. It's important to allow your legal team to have access to the medical records, so be sure you take their contact information with you. That way, you will be able to fill out the HIPAA forms immediately.
Other requirements of being appointed as the executor or administrator
As the executor or administrator, you will be required to meet other obligations pertaining to the decedent's estate, including making sure their wishes are carried out according to their will. You will need to settle all of their debt and liquidate their assets if necessary. You will also need to pay the taxes on the estate.
Navigating the probate court system may be necessary when you are trying to obtain medical records of your loved one. Your wrongful death attorney can recommend probate lawyers in your area. If you're looking for a wrongful death attorney in your area, visit Law Offices of Anthony L Coviello LLC.