One of the most sensitive parts of filing a lawsuit after you’ve been the victim of an injury is the extent to which your private medical issues must come to light.
It is unfortunate that you have to give complete strangers access to your most private records, and it is an unfortunate side effect of pursuing your rights. Steep barriers prevent most people from having access to your medical information — even your own attorney cannot ask for one paper from any of your doctors until the doctor has received a signed medical release pursuant to law from you personally.
Another important protection is the line of cases in Illinois known as the “Petrillo Doctrine,” which prevents a defense attorney from so much as contacting your doctor.
In the case that set out the rule (Petrillo v. Syntex Laboratories, Inc.), the court ruled that no third party could permissibly contact a plaintiff’s medical providers — and as the later cases that would fashion this “rule” into a “doctrine” established, this includes defense attorneys, insurance claims adjustors, anyone.
The only way a defense attorney can obtain your medical records, or even appear for a deposition to take the information from your doctor(s), is by issuing a subpoena.
Collectively, these laws and rules are important, because they recognize the sensitive nature of filing a lawsuit for damage to your health, and they put as many mechanisms as possible in place to protect you and your privacy — especially in such sensitive times.
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