Overstreet Law Law and Legal Definition

The Supreme Court of Tennessee's order in Billy Overstreet v. TRW Commercial Steering Division (2008 WL 2424349) has later come to be known as Overstreet Law in Tennessee. This case revolved around the covenant of confidentiality that exists between a physician and patient in a workers' compensation case. The Overstreet court restricted the employer's and insurer's ability to communicate with the physician treating the injured employee. The case presented two issues:

(1) if it is permissible for an employer to conduct an ex parte interview with an employee's treating physician; and
(2) if an employer is entitled to order a medical evaluation to be conducted by a physician of the employer's choice.

Applying the principles of Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act (T.C.A. §50-6-204(a)(1) and (2)), the court held that an implied covenant of confidentiality arises between an employee and any physician supplied by the employer. Although the employer pointed out that certain medical information is subject to discovery and therefore should be permissible to be made known to the employer, the court gave priority to the confidential nature of the relationship between the physician and patient. According to the court, any such information ought to be disclosed only through discovery procedures.

The court also held that an employer is entitled to order a medical evaluation to be conducted by a physician of his choice. The employee can challenge the examination only if the request is unreasonable. If the trial court orders that that the examination is reasonable, then the employee has no other choice but to undergo it. If not, it may result in the dismissal of his workers' compensation claim.