June 2, 2015 • Personal Injury FAQs
You have initiated a car accident case, or wrongful death case or even a possible medical malpractice case, and now you are wondering if there is something damaging in your medical records. If so, can you keep this information out of the trial?
You need to Keep Damaging Information from being Heard in Court
There might be instances when you have suffered injuries due to the wrongdoing of others, and you want to file a personal injury case to claim compensation. However, there might be something damaging in your medical records that you might not want people and the jury to know about it. Is there a way for you to prevent the jury from seeing this damaging information?
For example, suppose you go to a holiday party and you had something to drink. In fact you had a couple of drinks, and later you were involved in a car accident. However, this car accident was not your fault, and it had nothing to do with you. You had stopped at a traffic light and your vehicle was rear-ended. Now, when the ambulance comes to the accident scene, you tell them you were drinking. At the emergency room when they draw your blood, it shows you have alcohol in your system.
Information that could Undermine Your Case at least Partially
However, does that have anything to do with the fact you were hit in the rear while you had stopped at a red light? Obviously, the answer is no. Nevertheless, it may be difficult for you to keep out the information about the fact that you had been drinking. Why is that? The law in New York requires that if your statements are relevant and related to the doctor’s care and treatment of you, for the purposes of diagnosing and treating you, then such information will most likely come out at trial.
You can Keep Certain Damaging Information a Secret
However, if the information that you want to keep secret, that skeleton in your closet, had absolutely nothing to do with the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment of your particular condition at that time, then there is a strong possibility that such information will not be part of your court case. For clarification purposes, the jury will never get to hear that information.
Now, just think about the instance when a jury listening to your accident case of your car being rear-ended at a signal light, comes to know that you had been drinking before the accident. Now, the jury can strongly start suspecting that you should never have been driving and should not have been on the road in the first place because of what you had been drinking. The defense will also illustrate this point and might even accuse you of wrongdoing which could deflect the blame on the other party and point some of it at you.
Hence, to answer the question whether you can keep out damaging information from being part of the trial, is you can. This is as long as that information has nothing to do with the diagnosis and treatment of your particular condition that brought you to that point.