If you decide to hire our firm to handle your car accident case, premises liability case, or other personal injury case, then we will need for your to sign a few documents for our firm to begin work on your case. Some of these forms may be optional, and some of them are necessary, depending on what we need to investigate in your case.
The first form we have all clients sign is a “HIPAA Authorization”. Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, all health care providers must abide by privacy standards set by Federal Law in order to protect patients’ private health information (which includes, but is not limited to, medical records, x-rays, diagnostic reports, etc…). As a result of these heightened privacy standards, your medical providers cannot release your private health insurance information to our office unless you sign an authorization or release allowing them to do so. Our HIPAA Authorizations are very basic and you will only need to sign one.
The next form we have all clients sign is what we call a “HITECH Letter”. Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH Act”), medical providers are allowed under Federal law to send your medical records electronically at your request. Additionally, because of the reduced costs associated with obtaining these electronic records instead of costly paper records, medical providers are required to give you your medical records at a reasonable rate. For years, medical providers took advantage of a system where they would charge hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of dollars for patients to access their medical records. With the HITECH Act, medical providers are now directed by Federal law to follow the reasonable rate requirement in the HITECH Act if the client directs them to. The letters we have clients review and sign direct providers to send our firm electronic records and to send them at a reasonable rate.
Additionally, we may ask for you to sign other authorizations that permit for us to investigate and build your case. For instance, if you lost wages as a result of your personal injury, then we will need to obtain an employment authorization signed by you permitting your employer to send your employment records to our office. In some personal injury claims we also know that your performance at school may have suffered as well, setting you behind your peers in school and possibly in the workplace. As a result, we may also ask for you to sign an academic authorization which permits your school to release your academic records to our office. If additional claims need to be investigated, then we may have you review and sign additional forms. However, for most cases these are all of the investigative forms we need signed.
Last but not least, we will also need for you to sign a fee agreement with our office which is a contract between yourself and the firm for the firm to work on your personal injury case. For more information about our fee and expense structure, please see our page which covers our fees.
One thing to note is that in Missouri, all individuals under the age of eighteen are considered minors. Therefore, we are required by Missouri law to have a minor’s legal guardian sign all of the above documents on behalf of the minor.
Should you have any additional questions about what we do during our personal injury case investigations, or questions about our fee agreement, please do not hesitate to contact our office.