In personal injury cases involving "only emotional distress", is a Defendant entitled to discover Plaintiff's medical records?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Gilbert, AZ

If a Plaintiff only is claiming emotional distress symptoms (no physical injury) as their personal injury damages (heart palpitations, anger/irritability, gastrointestinal distress, nervousness, chronic stress, loss of sleep, etc.), are the Defendants entitled to discover the Plaintiff's entire medical history (dental, optometry, hospital/emergency room, medical doctors not related to psychiatrists, etc.) or only psychiatric/psychological records?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. John M Curtin

    Contributor Level 13

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    Answered . Technically, the physician patient privilege is waived only with regard to conditions the plaintiff has voluntarily put at issue. The trouble is that you are describing physical symptoms which you attribute to psychological distress. Defendants are probably entitled to look at medical records to see if you have any other conditions which might explain GI distress, palpitations, sleep disturbance, etc. They are also probably entitled to check to see if you had any of those complaints before the incident. If this intrudes on sensitive issues unrelated to the incident, you should discuss your options with your attorney.

  2. Christopher J Zachar

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . The simple answer: No.

    If the defense can reasonably attribute a request to a particular issue, then they might be able to “fish” a little bit.

    But, seeking completely unrelated pre-existing records will likely not be allowed.

  3. Frederick Charles Thomas

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

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    Answered . As the others have stated, typically yes. Again as you are claiming medical conditions resulting from the incident, the defendant has the right to investigate whether these conditions existed prior to, whether you have in the past made similar claims and resulting injuries.

    The above statement does not create an attorney-client relationship and the submitting party should not consider... more
  4. David J. McCormick

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . If the matter is in suit then you technically put your entire medical history at issue. This is an area where an attorney would bring a motion to limit the access to said medical records, or submit them to the court for an in camera review by the judge, who would then determine what records the defense is entitled to.

    If the matter is pre-suit, then they only get the records you want to give them.

    Good luck.

    DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being... more

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