There’s this case we’d been working on. A truck slammed into the back of a car. Our client was in the car and got hurt. Physically hurt. So much so that she had to quit her job and find a different part-time job. Doctor’s and physical therapist’s orders: no full-time work.
The insurance company for the driver who slammed into our client has the reputation of being one of the hardest to deal with. For some time, the insurance company was fair to her, but then, somewhat predictably, they cut off her Ridley and DuBray payments. We were forced to file a lawsuit.
Defense attorney served his first written discovery. We answered it, with one exception. We refused to give the defense attorney our client’s mental health records. In Montana there is a black-and-white constitutional right to privacy. There are also privileges in Montana that protect an individual’s mental health records. As a rule, we believe that, if the right to privacy means anything, it must protect a person’s innermost thoughts, as shared with the people employed to help them — unless the person purposely and unambiguously waives those rights.
The Montana Supreme Court has not decided whether a person claiming physical injuries as a result of a car wreck has waived their mental health privileges and rights to privacy of these mental health treatments. There are cases all around this issue, but none that address it head-on. Of course, when a person claims physical injuries, they waive their right to privacy and privileges surrounding their physical condition … but does that mean they waive their rights to the privacy of their mental health?
The Defense attorney filed a Motion arguing that it does. We filed a Brief arguing that it doesn’t. And, the judge agreed with us: Order on Mental Health Records.