Can a Defendant Find Out if Your Attorney Referred You to a Doctor?
When people are involved in an accident of any kind, they may already have doctors that they know and can trust. They may find an attorney while already undergoing medical treatment. But many victims do not know where to turn to for medical help. Many victims will ask their personal injury attorney for a suggestion about which medical professional is best for their particular situation.
Because many victims ask this same question of their attorneys, many injury attorneys know which medical professionals are best for the victim to treat with, based on the victim’s injury, need or location.
Asking About Referrals
When an injury case is filed, a defendant may try to ask the victim how he or she found the doctor that provided his or her treatment. The defendant’s goal is to make it seem like there is a bias—as if, because an attorney may suggest a specific neurologist or an orthopedist, this somehow “taints” the doctor’s testimony or medical records.
Defendants may even try to discover how many times the victim’s lawyer may have referred other clients to one doctor or another. This is done once again to try to show bias, even though it is nothing more than a desperate “fishing expedition.”
Attorney Client Privilege
The law in Florida is clear that asking a victim how he or she found their doctor is a violation of the attorney client privilege when the victim was referred by the attorney. The Florida Supreme Court has held, since 2017, that the conversation between a client and a lawyer about which doctor would be appropriate for treatment, is communication directly covered by the privilege. As such, a victim cannot be compelled to answer that question.
Furthermore, the Florida Supreme Court has held that in most cases, information about a victim’s attorney’s ongoing referral relationship to any particular doctor will usually be irrelevant. The Court has expressed concerns that asking for this kind of information could discourage doctors from treating patients, and could discourage attorneys from helping accident victims.
Protecting the Privilege
Of course, your doctor and your attorney may speak or write about you numerous times—they do, of course, share the same client/patient and have a mutual interest in your health. Most competent attorneys are aware of this and will be careful not to divulge any privileged information.
It is important to remember that attorney client privilege only extends to what you and your attorney say to each other. Once you (or your attorney) says something to a third party-like your doctor-that privilege no longer applies.
Protection of the confidential communications between you and your lawyer is not just your lawyer’s job—it is yours also. Thus, if you tell your doctor “my lawyer said X, Y, and Z,” you have lost the privilege as to that statement and it could be discovered by the other side. The same can be said to anything you say to friends, family or co-workers.
Do You Need Legal Help?
Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Jacobs Legal today for professional assistance. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of the process.