If you are suing the defendant for having caused your injuries — perhaps in a car accident, for example — then you may be concerned about having all your medical records exposed to the defendant and their attorneys.
You may be uncomfortable with the prospect of having private information revealed to the public at-large (if the medical records are introduced into evidence, then the details will be made available to the public). Further, the greater access that the defendant has to your lifetime medical records, the more likely it is that they will be able to weave together a damning narrative that undermines your arguments.
Suppose that you are injured in a car accident that was caused by the defendant, who was operating their vehicle in a distracted manner. You injure your leg as a result of the accident. During the discovery process, the defendant requests your lifetime medical records. That request is likely overbroad, however, and you need not honor it.
If the defendant were to have access to your lifetime medical records, they might notice that you have been in-and-out of hospitals many times throughout your life, and they might argue that your leg injury is exaggerated, given your “demonstrated tendency” to malinger.
By preventing the disclosure of irrelevant medical records, you therefore shield your lawsuit from damaging narratives.
Fortunately, the basic rules of evidence in Arizona protect injured plaintiffs against unnecessary and over-broad investigations into their lifetime medical records. It’s important that you secure the assistance of a qualified Phoenix car accident attorney, as they will help you navigate the challenges of litigation without having to provide access to irrelevant evidence that could hurt your case.
Evidence Rules at a Glance
The rules of evidence in Arizona largely mirror those enshrined in the various federal rules of evidence. For now, we’ll take a brief look at two of the most important evidentiary considerations that prevent excessive medical record disclosures.
Evidence Must Be Relevant
Rule 402 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence requires that admissible evidence be relevant (irrelevant evidence will not be admissible), while Rule 401 describes the test for relevant evidence. Pursuant to Rule 401, evidence will be deemed relevant only if it has a tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence at-issue, and if it is of consequence in determining the action.
What does this mean in the context of medical records?
Suppose that the defendant requests your medical records relating to a hand injury you sustained years ago, even though in your current lawsuit you are only arguing that you have suffered leg injuries. You could likely prevent the disclosure of the hand injury-related medical records because it is of no consequence in determining the action.
Evidence Must Not Be Prejudicial, Confusing, or a Waste of Time
Rule 403 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence requires that the court exclude evidence — even if it is relevant — if its probative value is outweighed by the danger of causing unfair prejudice towards the plaintiff (for example, an abortion might prejudice the jury against the plaintiff in a conservative county). Similarly, the probative value must be outweighed by the danger of causing confusion, a waste of time, or the jury to be misled.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Phoenix Car Accident Attorney
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have accumulated over six decades of combined experience representing a range of clients in personal injury litigation — including car accident cases — throughout the state of Arizona.
Unlike many other injury firms, we are deeply invested in the well-being and success of each of our clients. As such, we make ourselves available 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns that a client may have regarding their case, and we work closely with our clients (from the start of litigation) to ensure that our overall goals are aligned at every step of the process. We are even available to make hospital and house appointments, if doing so will be more convenient for you.
Have you been injured in a car accident, or in any other accident that was caused by the fault of another? Call (602) 535-1900 to setup an appointment with an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney here at Hirsch & Lyon. We take a lower contingency fee than competitor firms, so when you obtain compensation for your injuries, you’ll be able to keep more of it for yourself.