Excluding Prior Unrelated Medical Conditions at Trial in Personal Injury Lawsuits

 In a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff (the person who brings a case against another in a court of law) or defendant (an individual, company or institution sued or accused in a court of law) may have to disclose medical conditions and accidents that are unrelated to the current case due to their duty to disclose in the discovery phase of litigation.

 As litigation moves forward, a plaintiff or defendant may seek to have the information they needed to disclose in discovery excluded from being used at trial, including medical conditions or previous injuries. The information that is admissible at trial is determined by state law.

For example, in the state of Nevada, unrelated medical conditions are inadmissible at trial. In this blog, we will take a look at Nevada’s law when it comes to excluding unrelated medical conditions in a personal injury lawsuit.

Nevada’s Law

A plaintiff’s entire medical history is not discoverable, and therefore is not admissible at trial, merely because claims are made for personal injury.  Schlatter v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., 93 Nev. 189, 192, 561 P.2d 1342, 1344 (1977). 

According to Nevada Revised Statute 48.025:

1. All relevant evidence is admissible, except:

(a) As otherwise provided by this title;

(b) As limited by the Constitution of the United States or of the State of Nevada; or

(c) Where a statute limits the review of an administrative determination to the record made or evidence offered before that tribunal.

2. Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.

Furthermore, Nevada Revised Statute 48.035 states:

   1.  Although relevant, evidence is not admissible if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, of confusion of the issues or of misleading the jury.

   2.  Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by considerations of undue delay, waste of time or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

   3.  Evidence of another act or crime which is so closely related to an act in controversy or a crime charged that an ordinary witness cannot describe the act in controversy or the crime charged without referring to the other act or crime shall not be excluded, but at the request of an interested party, a cautionary instruction shall be given explaining the reason for its admission.

The Nevada Supreme Court has issued clear, binding case law that “in order for evidence of a prior injury or preexisting conditions to be admissible, a defendant must present by competent evidence a causal connection between the prior injury and the injury at issue.”  FGA, Inc. v. Giglio, 278 P.3d 490, 128 Nev., Adv. Op. 26, p. 14 (June 14, 2012).

 “Moreover, unless it is readily apparent to a layperson, a defendant seeking to introduce evidence of a prior injury generally must produce expert testimony demonstrating the relationship between the prior injury and the injury complained of and why it is relevant to a fact of consequence.” 

If you have questions about a case, contact a wrongful death lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, like the professionals at Eglet Adams, for for their insight on excluding prior unrelated medical conditions at trial.