Employees filing workers’ compensation claims may wonder whether their claims will become matters of public record. Suffering a workplace injury raises concerns about privacy of medical information. It also raises concerns about the possibility of retaliation at work or at a new job for filing a claim.
After you file a workers’ compensation claim, the only people who have access to your claim file are:
- your employer at the time of injury
- your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company
- agents of the employer or insurer, such as their employees
- Department of Labor and Industry staff members
- anyone else with written permission from you, such as your lawyer
Unlike complaints filed in civil or criminal court, your workers’ compensation claim is not available to the general public.
Regarding medical records associated with your workplace injury, the same is generally true. Usually, medical records are private personal information not available to anyone besides your doctors, yourself, and anyone you authorize to receive the records. A law called HIPAA, in addition to Minnesota state law, protects health care information from disclosure to unauthorized people. Filing a workers’ compensation claim creates an exception to the privacy rules for purposes of the claim only.
Under a Minnesota law called the Health Records Act, medical records can be released without a patient’s consent if authorized by law. Another Minnesota law provides that medical records directly related to a current workers’ compensation claim can be released to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, to the employer, and to the insurance company without the patient’s consent. HIPAA includes similar provisions.
Again, the only medical records the employer and insurer can receive are those directly related to your workers’ compensation claim. Other medical records are still private under HIPAA and Minnesota law unless you authorize their release.
Do you have questions about the workers’ compensation claim process? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.