If I make a personal injury claim will my whole medical history be disclosed?

Personal injury defense attorneys and insurance companies are not allowed to contact treating physicians except through formal discovery processes, or as agreed by the parties.  There are two reasons for this – 1)  to promote proper treatment by facilitating full disclosure of information from patient to physician and 2) to protect the patient from embarrassment or scandal which may result from revelation of intimate details of medical treatment.[1] 

Violation of this rule may have various consequences, including sanctions, exclusion of evidence, or a new trial.[2]  The severity of the remedy will depend on how much prejudice the injury claimant can show.[3]

When you make a personal injury claim, you are placing your health history and treatment in issue. You cannot claim harm, and then hide the ball on your medical history. A personal injury claimant’s medical treatment and prior medical history are largely fair game. Having said that, there are rules to protect personal injury claimants from public disclosure of irrelevant and embarrassing information, and the defense does not have unfettered access to medical information.

Feel free to contact us if you have further questions about how your personal injury claim may affect patient-physician privileges.


[1] Smith v. Orthopedics Int’l, Ltd., 170 Wn.2d 659, 244 P.3d 939 (2010).

[2] Id. at n.4.

[3] Id.; Rowe v. Vaagen Bros. Lumber, Inc., 100 Wn. App. 268, 278-80, 996 P.2d 1103 (2000) ; Ford v.

Chaplin, 61 Wn. App. 896, 812 P.2d 532 (1991).

About Travis Eller

Personal injury attorney Travis Scott Eller has represented injury victims since 1997. He is a member of MENSA and has earned the National Institute for Trial Advocacy "Advocate" designation. Independent attorney rating service Avvo rates Mr. Eller a "Superb" 9.3/10. Mr. Eller enjoys history, spectator sports, and skiiing. He is active in Toastmasters. Travis is married, and the proud father of two teenage sons.