Florida Court Discusses Discovery in Personal Injury Cases

October 28, 2023 | Jarrett Blakeley
Florida Court Discusses Discovery in Personal Injury Cases

People injured in car accidents often pursue compensation from the parties responsible for the crashes via civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs that argue defendants’ acts caused them to suffer physical harm place their health at issue, and therefore, information regarding their medical treatment is typically subject to discovery. There are some exceptions, though, such as in cases involving a medical provider’s trade secrets or propriety information, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court denied the defendant’s request for certain information from the plaintiff’s treatment provider. If you were injured in a collision, you might be owed damages, and it is smart to speak to a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney to assess what evidence you must produce to prove liability.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with the defendant. The plaintiff sustained back injuries in the accident, after which she sought treatment from a provider that specialized in spinal care. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging his negligent driving caused the accident and her subsequent harm. The defendant conceded he was liable but disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s damages.

Allegedly, during the discovery process, the defendant sought records from the plaintiff’s treatment provider. The provider filed a motion for a protective order, arguing that the information sought was protected from disclosure as it constituted trade secrets and proprietary information. The trial court ordered the provider to produce certain documents, and the provider appealed.

Information Protected from Disclosure Under Florida Law

A court must employ a three-part analysis to determine whether a discovery request should be denied based on the assertion that it requests the production of trade secrets. First, the court must evaluate whether the information sought does, in fact, contain trade secrets. Usually, this requires the court to review the documents, but in cases in which the nature of the information sought is not disputed, an examination is not necessary.

If the information sought contains trade secrets, a court will then evaluate whether the party arguing for the production of the documents can demonstrate that it is reasonably necessary to obtain the information sought. This is a factually specific analysis, which requires a trial court to assess whether the need to produce the documents outweighs the interest in upholding their confidentiality.

If the court orders a party to disclose information, it must be supported by the factual findings. Last, if the court determines that the need for production is greater than the interest in maintaining confidentiality, it must then analyze what safeguards should be put into place to protect the information.  In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in ordering the provider to produce the information sought, finding that the defendant failed to show that the disclosure was reasonably necessary. Thus, the court quashed the order compelling the provider to produce the records.

Consult a Seasoned Florida Attorney

Car accidents often cause painful injuries that require extensive and costly medical treatment. If you were hurt in a collision, you may be owed the cost of your medical care and other damages from the party that caused the crash, and it is in your best interest to consult an attorney. Jarrett Blakeley is a seasoned Florida car accident attorney with the skills and experience needed to help you fight to protect your interests. You can reach Mr. Blakeley at (800) 602-5000 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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