Discovery is an essential component of car accident cases; without it, parties would not be able to adequately develop their claims or defenses. Not all information and documentation is discoverable, however, and even if evidence is subject to discovery, it may be protected by one or more privileges. Relevance and privilege in the context of discovery was the topic of a recent Texas opinion issued in a case arising out of a collision, In re Central Oregon Truck Co., Inc., — S.W.3d —- (2022), in which the court ultimately held that information regarding the injured party’s medical billing was relevant. If you were hurt in a car crash, it is important to understand your rights and obligations, and you should meet with a Texas car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff was injured in a collision in which she was rear-ended by the defendant driver. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the driver and because the driver was working at the time of the accident, his employer. During the course of discovery, the defendants subpoenaed the plaintiff’s medical providers to obtain her medical records and billing information. The plaintiff moved to quash the subpoenas, arguing that the information sought was irrelevant. The court ultimately denied her motion.
Discoverability of Information in Car Accident Cases
Pursuant to Texas law, a party is permitted to attain discovery pertaining to any matter that is relevant to the issues presented in the underlying action, as long as it is not privileged, regardless of whether it relates to the defense or claim of the party seeking the information or another party in the case. All discovery is subject to a proportionality standard that requires a case by case assessment of judicial considerations.
Evidence will be deemed relevant if it is likely to make the existence of a fact that is material to the determination of the case more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. In a recent ruling, the Texas Supreme Court expressly stated that information about a medical provider’s billing practices is relevant and subject to discovery in a personal injury lawsuit.
Specifically, information regarding medical billing may bear on the reasonableness of the amount charged, and reasonableness is a well-established limitation on what medical expenses a plaintiff may recover as damages. Based on the foregoing, the court quashed the plaintiff’s motion.
Confer with a Trusted Texas Attorney
In lawsuits arising out of car accidents, defendants will try to seek information to reduce their liability, but only relevant information must be produced. If you were hurt in a collision caused by another driver, it is in your best interest to confer with an attorney to discuss what damages you may be owed. Earl Drott is a trusted Texas attorney with the skills and experience needed to obtain favorable outcomes in car crash cases, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Drott via the online form or at 903-531-9300 to set up a free meeting.