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Title: Do I have to reveal my medical history?

Date: 21 October 2015

Question

I have an accident compensation claim is going through with my local solicitors who seem pretty on the ball but I do have one query. I was hit from behind whilst stationery on my Vespa.

My solicitor has asked me to sign a form of authority which will give my opposite side’s solicitors direct access to all of my medical records. I have an interesting medical history to say the lease and which I would rather not be disclosed although in my opinion my previous injuries and condition don’t have anything to do with my accident claim. Can they insist on me signing the form?

Oliver Harding, Chester

Answer

Your claim for General Damages (for pain, suffering and loss of amenity) will be based on one or more medical reports obtained from independent medical expert/s. In addition to examining you that expert (in more serious cases) will also wish to consider your medical notes to form a view of your medical history and to what extent the accident is responsible for injuries complained of and current symptoms. He/she will also try to place a time frame on resolution of those symptoms.

For example it may be that on-going symptoms could be attributable to a pre-existing condition or that the accident has brought forward symptoms that you would have had but for the accident after a certain number of years. It is very common, for example, for someone in their middle age to have asymptomatic degenerative disease and an accident can accelerate the onset of symptoms.

It is therefore very important that medical experts have full access to medical records and if not provided voluntarily the Defendant may make an application to the court and you may find the court orders disclosure in any event together with costs against you. However there are situations where the Claimant’s solicitors could ask the provider of the records to redact (block out sensitive/irrelevant bits) and provide redacted medical notes to the solicitors on the other side. Agreement should be reached with the defendant in this situation. I don’t know what your previous history is so I don’t know how reasonable such a request would be but the provider can make this call if agreement is reached between the parties. I suggest you discuss this in detail with your solicitors.

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