In lawsuits arising out of car accidents, it is not uncommon for a defendant to argue that a plaintiff suffered from a pre-existing condition and did not sustain actual harm in the collision. Thus, a defendant may seek medical records from a plaintiff that pre-date the crash. There are limits to what is discoverable, however, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling in which the court denied a motion to compel ten years of medical records in a car accident case on the grounds it violated the plaintiff’s right to privacy. If you were injured in a crash, it is advisable to consult a skillful Florida car accident attorney to discuss your options.
Background of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff was injured in a car accident involving the defendant in 2014. She subsequently pursued negligence claims against the defendant in a lawsuit filed in 2018. Unfortunately, the plaintiff’s health declined, and in 2019 she was on hospice care and suffering from dementia and was unable to sit for a deposition. Thus, the defendant sought production of all of the plaintiff’s medical records for the past ten years. The plaintiff objected, arguing the request was overbroad and violated her constitutional right to privacy. Originally, the trial court sustained the objection, but it was later overruled, and the plaintiff was compelled to disclose the requested records. The plaintiff then petitioned the appellate court for certiorari.
The Right to Privacy in Personal Injury Cases
A petition for certiorari can only be granted if the person requesting it shows a departure from the essential requirements of the law, which will result in material harm for the rest of the case that cannot be repaired post-judgment. Upon review, the court noted that a patient’s medical records are entitled to confidential status pursuant to the right to privacy afforded by the Florida Constitution. As such, an order compelling production of medical records satisfies the element of irreparable harm. Continue reading