Protecting your Privacy from Defense Counsel

Posted By: Tony Baratta | October 23rd, 2014

Why should a defense attorney have access to your gynecologic records if you have a neck injury?

When you file a lawsuit for personal injuries, the insurance carrier hired defense attorney will attempt to discover everything about you: everything about your past medical history, your past work history, your past earnings history, and they will examine your social media activity This blog will discuss how Baratta, Russell & Baratta considers an important part of our advocacy to protect your privacy interests. 

Defense attorneys will argue that you have waived any privacy interest in your past by filing a lawsuit for personal injuries.  Defense lawyers are often shocked when BRB fights to preserve our client’s privacy rights by preventing them access to past medical records which are not relevant to the issues in your lawsuit.

And the defense has a viable argument, the Pennsylvania rules of discovery allow the defense to obtain information that is “reasonably calculated to lead to discoverable evidence”.

After a lawsuit is filed, and before trial, the parties engage in “discovery,” the process by which each side learns about the information the other side has.  In this battlefield, the defense will often attempt to serve a subpoena upon every past and present physician, hospital, pharmacy or employer where you have received treatment.  The insurance companies funding these fishing expeditions don’t care about the cost.  The defense lawyers are hoping to find a nugget of information to make some argument that your harms and losses either existed previously or are not as bad as you say they are.

At BRB we fight to protect your privacy interests.  Of course, some of your medical and employment history is relevant and important to prove your harms and losses.  But of what concern is every visit you’ve ever made to your family doctor to the defense?   Why should a defense attorney have access to your gynecologic records if you have a neck injury? Why just because you went to a particular hospital’s emergency room to treat the injury caused by the defendant, should they be able to blindly ask for every treatment you’ve ever received at that hospital?

When the defense subpoenas your records, we file objections.  We demand that we have the ability to review those records before the defense sees them and create a privacy log identifying those records which the defense has no right to see.  Because in most situations defense attorneys are granted full access to your past, whether relevant or not, the defense cannot understand why we resist their efforts.   As a result, we are often in Court arguing to protect your privacy.  And we have prevailed in every venue we have fought this battle: Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Northampton, Delaware, and Lancaster. 

The end result to your lawsuit is obviously most important.  But protecting you and your interests along the way to a successful result is never forgotten here at BRB.

About the Author

Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is on the board for the Philadelphia VIP, member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys, voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers for the past 13 years and 2018 recipient of the First Judicial District Pro Bono Award for the Civil Trial Division.

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