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Plaintiff Not Required to Provide Medical Exam Documenting all Alleged Injuries in Lead-Poisoning Case

Written September 29, 2014

In a case in front of the New York Court of Appeals, the Court determined that the lower court erred in requiring the plaintiffs to provide medical proof (in the form of a physician’s examination) of all injuries claimed.

In Hamilton v. Miller, the adult plaintiff claimed that, as a young child, he lived in a home that was owned by the defendants. The plaintiff claimed that the home his family rented from the defendants exposed him to a large amount of lead that eventually gave him lead poisoning.

At trial, the plaintiff claimed a list of 35 injuries he sustained as a result of the lead poisoning, including physical, psychological, and neurological impairments. However, the plaintiff did not have medical documentation of all 35 of these injuries, since they were not diagnosed when he was a child. He was only diagnosed as having lead poisoning.

The defendant asked the plaintiffs for “copies of any reports of any physicians who have treated or examined the plaintiff.” However, the reports provided by the plaintiff only indicated that he was diagnosed with lead poisoning as a young child. They did not diagnose the plaintiff with any of the list of 35 injuries complained of in the case. The defendants argued that these reports were not sufficient under the rules, and that the plaintiff should be required to obtain medical reports for each of the 35 complained-of injuries.

The lower court agreed and required the plaintiff to do so. The plaintiff appealed.

On Appeal

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that it would put an undue financial burden on him to obtain medical reports for all of the injuries complained of in the case. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that “the rule does not obligate them to hire a medical provider to examine them and create a report solely for purposes of the litigations.” The Court explained that it would be “prohibitively expensive” to require all plaintiffs to obtain these records, especially in cases such as this one.

The Court did, however, require that the plaintiff provide “comprehensive reports from their treating and examining medical providers. The reports ‘shall include a recital of the injuries and conditions as to which testimony will be offered at the trial.’” This, the court held, goes to the notice requirement that is in place for the benefit of the defendants. In other words, the plaintiff was required to submit documentation of the complained-of injuries and what he planned to argue at trail. The plaintiff did not, however, need comprehensive diagnosis information.

Have You Been Injured in a New York Accident?

To be sure, the nuance in this lead poisoning case is slight. However, if you have been injured in any kind of accident in the State of New York, this case and the law it interprets may be relevant to you. In most cases, plaintiffs are required to introduce proof of their injuries in order to substantiate their claim against the defendant. This case interprets the law as to one aspect of that requirement. If you have any questions about how to recover for injuries you sustained as a result of an accident, call (516) 394-4200 to schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated personal injury attorneys.

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