Tennessee Court of Appeals Rules Medical Records Are Admissible to Prove Plaintiff’s Prior Condition

If you were injured in a car accident, the other driver may dispute the cause and extent of your injuries. One method the other driver’s attorney may employ to attempt to diminish your injuries is to introduce medical records that indicate that your alleged injuries existed prior to the accident. While you may think it is in your best interest to preclude any medical records that are not related to treatment from injuries caused by the accident, in a recent case, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee held that a trial court erred in excluding medical records indicating a pre-existing condition at the plaintiff’s request and remanded the case for a new trial. As such, if you are involved in a Tennessee car accident, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Tennessee personal injury attorney to assess the facts of your case and assist you in gathering evidence to support the claim you suffered new injuries or that an existing injury was exacerbated due to the accident.

Facts of the Case

Plaintiff sued defendant, alleging defendant’s negligence caused a car accident that resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. The case was tried in front of a jury, who found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her damages in the amount of $70,000.00. Defendant moved for a new trial, which the court denied. Defendant appealed.  On appeal, defendant argued, in part, that the trial court erred in excluding plaintiff’s pre-accident medical records and testimony regarding plaintiff’s medical expenses. Defendant further argued that plaintiff lacked sufficient testimony to establish her injury was permanent, and justify the award of damages that arose out of permanency.

Ruling of Court of Appeals of Tennessee

On appeal, the court noted that whether evidence is admissible is within the discretion of the trial court and will only be overruled if the appellate court finds an abuse of discretion. Here, the trial court granted plaintiff’s motion in limine to exclude medical records of plaintiff’s treatment prior to the accident on the grounds that expert testimony was needed to prove causation. The court noted that records submitted as evidence without the affidavit required under Tennessee rules of evidence were properly excluded. The court held the trial court erred in excluding records submitted with an appropriate affidavit, however. This error was subject to review to determine whether it resulted in harm by affecting the judgment. In this case, the court found the evidence excluded was relevant and significantly impacted the amount of plaintiff’s damage award. As such, the court remanded the case for a new trial.

Retain a Skilled Tennessee Personal Injury Attorney

In order to thoroughly assess the damages and injuries caused by a car accident, it is important to address whether any pre-existing conditions existed and if so how they were affected by the accident. A plaintiff bears the burden of producing evidence of any injury caused by an accident, and cannot simply ignore evidence that is not in his or her favor. Eric Beasley is an experienced Tennessee auto accident attorney who can anticipate obstacles to your recovery of damages and formulate a plan to help you obtain a favorable outcome. To schedule a consultation to discuss your claim, contact the Law Office of Eric Beasley today at 615-859-2223.

More Blog Posts:

Tennessee Car Accident Resulting in Wrongful Death Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, August 23, 2018.

Tennessee Supreme Court Holds Negligent Husband Has Priority For Wrongful Death Claim Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, March 13, 2018.

Tennessee Court Reverses Summary Judgment Ruling Based on Comparative Fault Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, October 23, 2017.