How Does My Personal Injury Case Stay Private?
Most people take medical expenses, the core of personal injury cases, very seriously. United States citizens see these matters as a very personal, very private part of their lives. However, unfortunately, courts are rarely completely private about these matters. The judicial system has specific reasons for involving the public in its proceedings, but it does provide some protections to the people involved. Accident lawyers in New York do their best to ensure privacy of their clients.
Why Won’t My Case Be Private?
Court cases are never private unless one of the parties (defendant or plaintiff) involved is a minor. However, this is rarely the case with personal injury matters since minors usually cannot sue or be on the defending end of a civil lawsuit. Cases are left open to the public for several reasons. First, the court system is supposed to be improved constantly, and therefore left open to public criticism. Second, personal injury cases could affect more than one victim. Leaving the case public could inspire another victim to come forth.
How is the Lack of Privacy Alleviated?
Again, certain facts of the case (e.g. involvement of a minor, victim of sexual violence, witness protection, etc.) may cause various identities or facts of the case to be left private in order to protect the people involved. If a case is left public, various measures can be taken to ensure the highest amount of privacy possible. First “in camera” reviews are sometimes conducted. Here, facts of the case will be discussed privately in the judge’s chambers to determine what is absolutely essential to the case so that some facts may be left private. Second, plaintiffs may be allowed to proceed with the case under an alias; a false name. Third, people involved with the case are not permitted to discuss the facts outside of the courtroom.
How Does the Judge Determine Fact Relevance?
Again, many of the facts discussed in the personal injury case will be a very private matter. During an in camera review, every fact of a case is discussed within the judge’s chambers. However, the purpose of this meeting is to determine which facts can be left out and which ones are essential to reveal. Evidence is considered relevant and, therefore, admissible only if it adds probability to any other facts being revealed in a case or if the fact contributes directly to proof of the case for either party. Cornell University, based in Ithaca, New York explains these requirements in detail.
How Do Privacy Laws Work in Personal Injury Cases?
For the most part, the privacy law relevant to personal injury cases in HIPPA, this is the federal law that protects medical records and access to them. Generally, people with access to medical records (e.g. a doctor) are not permitted to reveal these records. However, in personal injury cases, medical records must be revealed in order to determine the extent of one’s injuries, actions taken to alleviate them, etc. However, individuals must sign documents allowing the court and its participants (i.e. their New York accident lawyer) to access these records. Furthermore, those involved with court proceedings are not permitted to discuss the case outside of the courtroom.
How Do I Gain My Privacy Back After a Case?
Unfortunately, once facts about an individual have been revealed, there is no way to “un-reveal” them. Court cases can be difficult, not to mention a stressful. The public will access some medical records. This is simply a part of every court case. However, anti-harassment laws exist which protect people from backlash due to certain medical records being revealed. Overall, the most important thing to remember is just to keep one’s head held high and realize that revealing medical records is worth it in personal injury cases.