Injured truck crash victims often don’t believe me when I explain that the insurance company defense lawyers will get to look at their pre-accident medical records. The lawyers for the truck driver will get access to medical records not just from the days and weeks before the car accident, but often years and sometimes decades before a wreck. It does not matter if the defendant driver was charged and convicted in Traffic or Criminal Court. The process known as "Pre-Trial Discovery" in both civil and criminal cases in the United States allows the Defense to get access to what would otherwise be very private and personal information.
This point was driven home by a recent article covering the Yeardley Love murder case, where the University of Virginia lacrosse player was allegedly killed by her boyfriend who admitted fighting with her, shaking her while her head hit the wall. In the case currently pending in Charlottesville, Virginia, the judge reviewed the medical records of the slain UVa athlete that had been requested by the defense. The judge privately reviewed Love’s medical records dating back more than four years and ruled that nothing in the documents, apart from her legally prescribed Adderall dosage, was relevant to the defense’s case. The Prosecutor called the plea a "fishing expedition" because it lacked any narrow purpose. Adderall is an amphetamine drug commonly prescribed for attention deficit disorder. The Adderall, which medical examiners found trace evidence of in Love’s bloodstream, could have weakened her heart and made her more susceptible to a cardiac arrhythmia. Examiners traced less than 0.05 milliliters of Adderall per liter of blood in Love, and measured her blood alcohol content at 0.14 percent, the amount equal to roughly four 12-ounce beers for a woman Love’s size, according to the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.