One of the most critical aspects of any car accident case is the discovery phase, in which the parties request information about the accident and each other’s background. Although it is clear that certain types of information are discoverable, there are frequent disputes regarding whether other categories of information and documents must be produced, including medical records. As seasoned Chicago car accident lawyers, we are experienced in handling discovery and know how to ensure that the other side plays by the rules. A recent appellate case demonstrates a common dispute regarding medical records in auto accident cases.
The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the defendant in 2015, alleging that the defendant struck the plaintiff with his vehicle while she was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The defendant asserted an affirmative defense to the complaint allegations, arguing that the plaintiff failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to cross the street properly. The defendant also alleged that the plaintiff was intoxicated at the time of impact and that the plaintiff’s negligence rendered her at least 50% or more at fault for the accident.
During discovery, the plaintiff sent interrogatories to the defendant, which included a request regarding any medical or physical conditions that required a letter of physician’s approval for the defendant to drive. In response, the defendant indicated that he required a letter of approval involving a diabetic reason and identified the doctor who provided the letter. The plaintiff had also requested the identity of any eye doctor or general practitioner who had treated the defendant in the last 10 years. The defendant claimed that these requests sought information that would violate HIPAA and the doctor-patient privilege. He also asserted that his medical health at the time of the accident was not an issue in the litigation.