When you’re the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you might feel like you’ve been asked to provide a lot of personal information. The defense might have asked for information like your income, insurance policy, tax returns, driver’s license number, or social security number. Typically, you keep this information private because you feel it’s personal or because you want to protect yourself from identity theft. But in a personal injury case, do you have the luxury of privacy?
Your Privacy Rights in Pennsylvania
When going into a personal injury case, you should be aware of your privacy rights as the plaintiff. In Pennsylvania, these are things to consider when it comes to the privacy of your personal information:
- Common law right to privacy. This law in Pennsylvania ensures that you have a right to live a life of seclusion. The defense can’t infringe upon your right to live a secluded life, so they can’t make any of your information public without your consent.
- Medical records. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that prohibits doctors from releasing your medical records without your consent. In a personal injury case, you will have to sign a waiver that grants your lawyers and the defense access to your relevant medical records. They should not need your entire medical history.
- Finances. The defense does not need to see your income records unless you are claiming that your personal injury affected your ability to work and collect wages.
- Social media. Although many people believe their social media are their private pages, they are actually public forums. If you post information on your social media that contradicts your claims in your case, the defense could use that information against you.
It’s best to consult your personal injury lawyer if you feel like your privacy has been breached by the defense. For example, if you were asked to disclose your social security number, and you feel as though it’s not relevant to the case, consult your lawyer before offering up the information. It’s always best to double check with your legal team if you feel uncomfortable with providing any personal information.
When Privacy Isn’t Beneficial to Your Case
In a personal injury case, a lot of personal information will be required in order to make your case stronger. And since it’s about your injury, any medical records proving it are necessary to your case. The only way you could have a chance at receiving compensation for your medical bills is by presenting those bills. Otherwise, you have no proof of the claims you’re making about an injury.
Even though it feels like the defense needs too much of your personal information, denying to present any of the information they request could make you look suspicious. This could undermine your entire case. If you feel like any of the defense’s requests violate your privacy, you can speak to your legal team to sort out what they actually need. This allows you to either keep your privacy or know that the information you’re providing is absolutely necessary to the case.
When it comes to information in a personal injury case, it can feel like things get too personal. Since you’re not used to people combing through your private information, it’s important to have a legal team who knows what you do and don’t need to provide. Contact us at Shrager & Sachs if you need legal guidance through your Philadelphia personal injury case. We can help you sort through what personal information is necessary.