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Personal Injury

When You Bring a Law Suit, You Give Up Certain Rights to Privacy

June 22, 2015 | Dominique A. Penson

When you bring a law suit for personal injuries, you are required to waive privileges you otherwise have to keep certain matters private or confidential.

For example, a person’s medical records are ordinarily confidential.  But if you sue someone, claiming that they caused you injury, you waive the right to keep records of treatment for those injuries confidential.  You also waive the right to keep confidential any other treatment records that are arguably relevant to those injuries.  For instance, if you claimed that the defendant in your case injured your neck, back and shoulder, not only would the defendant be permitted to obtain copies of any records relating to treatment you received for your present injuries, but they would also be able to obtain records of any past treatment of your neck, back and shoulder.  But that doesn’t mean that defendants would be entitled to all of your medical records.  For example, if you had also undergone treatment in the past for some unrelated medical condition, such as surgery to remove a gall stone, or cosmetic surgery, the defendant would not be entitled to those records.

Another right to privacy that may be waived when a person brings a law suit for personal injuries is to keep social media content private.  For example, let’s say that someone had a Facebook account that was kept private.  Ordinarily, the content would not be subject to discovery in a personal injury case.  But if there were something about the public profile portion of the account that were inconsistent with the claims in the law suit, a court might order that the private portions of the account be revealed.  That might happen, for instance, someone were to post a picture on their public profile of herself doing something, such as playing the piano, that she alleged she couldn’t do in the law suit.

Bringing a law suit has consequences for a person’s rights to privacy.  If you or someone close to you is thinking about bringing a law suit, make sure that your lawyer explains these things to you.

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