Prior Accidents or Injuries Suffered by Strangers Can be Difficult to Obtain
Why is evidence of prior negligence relevant and discoverable? If a victim says that he fell over something hidden or dangerous on someone else’s property where he was permitted to be under the same circumstances, this information is usually discoverable by the victim’s attorney. But there are circumstances when victims of negligence, malpractice or abuse by a medical provider or a nursing home may be precluded from discovering prior similar events or evidence.
For example, if someone is injured in a nursing home, and the victim wants to discover medical records of other people who may have been similarly abused or neglected, in order to show the nursing home was careless or that the home has a practice or pattern of neglecting its residents, shouldn’t the privacy of other victims be respected.
HIPPA Laws typically protect people’s medical records from being produced and made public except in the most exceptional circumstances. If you were a resident in that nursing home, you likely would not want your medical information disclosed to a total stranger in order to prove that stranger’s personal injury case.
The Florida Constitution, unlike the Federal Constitution, explicitly provides a right to privacy.
To determine whether a victim may discover otherwise private information of previous victims, the court will weigh the information requested against the confidentiality rights of previous victims.
If the information requested by the victim can be obtained through other sources, or in ways that do not jeopardize the privacy of other victims, the Court will often deny the request. However, if there is no other way for the victim to get the information that is being requested, the Court may allow it to be disclosed.
Sometimes, the Court will strike a balance, ordering that documents or information be redacted or limited–for example, blacking out the more sensitive, private information.
All Cases May Have This Problem
This balancing test isn’t limited just to nursing home abuse cases. It also applies to medical malpractice, slip and falls, and other personal injury cases.
Remember that even if the judge allows you to get records that show prior evidence of abuse, neglect or accidents suffered by strangers to the lawsuit, that doesn’t mean it will be admissible in court. Still, just obtaining this information may be beneficial in settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
Make sure that you are prepared for whatever the insurance company tries to do to thwart your injury case. If you have been injured in an accident, contact our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at the Celeste Law Firm today.