Medical records are the prime pieces of evidence in auto accident cases and it is important that the injured party seeks proper treatment in a timely manner. This will ensure that the records show the nature of the injury and prove that the victim attempted to get better. Personal injury attorneys help victims of auto accidents obtain the medical records, perform a detailed medical record review and start building a case. Once organized and analyzed properly, medical records help to understand the following:
- The extent of injuries
- Pre-existing conditions that were affected or made worse
- Dates and frequency of treatments
- Whether further treatment would be necessary
- Whether future health complications are likely to develop
A typical auto accident injury is that which involved Jessica Rogers, a 16-year-old girl of New Jersey, who suffered the dire consequences of the reckless driving of another person. The incident occurred in 2005 when she was a passenger in a serious car crash that resulted from road rage. Jessica was travelling in a car along with her friends. All of a sudden, another driver cut them off, enraging Jessica’s friend who was driving. In an attempt to pass the car in which Jessica was riding, the person lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a telephone pole. Though he walked away unharmed Jessica was seriously injured. She was left paralyzed from the chest down, and had to undergo numerous surgical procedures as well as extensive physical therapy to regain the ability to accomplish basic tasks. She is wheelchair bound now.
A case such as that of Jessica’s would involve the detailed review of numerous medical records including X-rays, lab tests and other specialized tests to support the injuries and treatments needed. Having a personal injury lawyer’s support is advantageous because of their expertise in these matters. With the help of expert medical review services, they can pinpoint the important medical facts and build a strong case. When a personal injury lawyer represents the injured party, he/she can also request the court to limit access to medical records that may not relate to the case.
Jessica and her family endeavor to build awareness about road rage accidents and this incident inspired the New Jersey legislature to pass Jessica’s Law in the year 2012. This Law had enabled to increase the severity of the offenses involved in violent, rage-fueled reckless driving. The driver responsible for Jessica’s serious accident was at first sentenced to just 6 months in jail, out of which he served four. Later, he served additional jail time for violating parole. This sentence itself was considered a major accomplishment at that time because it was likely that the perpetrator may have escaped without a jail sentence. Jessica’s Law upgraded the crime of assault by automobile or vessel from a disorderly person’s offense to a crime of the fourth degree, if physical injury results from the driver’s actions. A disorderly person’s offense may be punished by a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of $1000 or both, whereas the maximum possible fine for a fourth degree crime is ten times $1000 and the maximum jail sentence is 18 months. The crime increases to the third degree if a driver guilty of assault by automobile resulting in bodily harm was driving recklessly with conscious disregard for the rights and safety of other people in a way that could put people or property in danger. A person found guilty of such crimes can be sentenced to imprisonment for 3 to 5 years, a fine of $15000 or both.
It is expected that with increased penalties from Jessica’s Law and more awareness building about road rage accidents, everyone who drives an automobile will drive safer and with more consideration for others on the road.