Northwest Indiana personal injury lawyer discusses whether an injured client has to provide the other side's insurance company or insurance company lawyer with their tax returns.
If you're injured in an Indiana accident or by medical malpractice and because of your injuries, you lost work or will lose wages in the future – your tax information may have to be given to the other side to support the claim.
Generally, tax returns are considered private information. However, if an injured person makes a claim for lost wages or that she will lose money in the future because of her injuries, her financial information because relevant.
Indiana Law on Discovery of Tax Returns
Information that is relevant to a claim and not considered privileged is discoverable. So the inquiry is whether the information is relevant to the claim. If the injured person is a making a simple wage loss claim that she missed so many hours of work for so many weeks and this can be supported by pay check stubs or through her personnel record, then arguably her tax return information should remain private. On the other hand, if a person is self employed and doesn't take a regular wage, tax return information may be the only way to support the claim.
The Southern District of Indiana in: Greenwood Aircrash, 161 F.R.D. 387 said that a spouse in a wrongful death action had to produce her tax returns showing her financial dependence on her deceased spouse; however, she could redact any financial information that she independently produced. The court also said that the decedent's minor children's tax returns were discoverable to so dependence and pecuniary loss.
The factors that we look at in deciding whether our clients have to provide their tax returns:
- What is the nature and extent of your wage loss or loss of future earning capacity?
- Are there less intrusive means, such as, pay check or payroll stubs that will support the claim?
- Is the injured person paid a straight hourly wage?
- Are you self employed?
- If you're self employed – do you receive a regular wage or do you just take the money left over at the end of the year?
As you can see, Indiana personal injury law is complex. These issues should be dealt with immediately before a claim is ever presented to an insurance company or a lawsuit is filed. This way, the lawyer has all the supporting documentation at the outset so the parties will not have scramble and fight over the material at a later date.
If you have any questions about a Northwest Indiana personal injury claim or making a wage loss claim, call our Indiana personal injury lawyers at (219) 874-4878 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right hand side of the screen.