What Can I Tell My Personal Injury Lawyer?
When people first visit or speak to a personal injury lawyer, they often have a lot of questions they want to be answered. One common question involves exactly what their attorney is allowed to reveal regarding privacy. If you talk to your attorney, what does your attorney have to keep private, and what can he or she reveal to others?
All of these questions hinge on the idea of attorney-client confidentiality. This idea is one of the most basic concepts running throughout the modern legal system and is something that everyone should know about before talking to a lawyer.
The basic idea of attorney–client confidentiality is this; when someone talks to an attorney for legal advice, the attorney cannot reveal the statements that person makes to the attorney without that person’s permission. Not even a court can order an attorney to reveal this information, and by withholding it, the attorney does not violate the law. In fact, because attorneys must be licensed by the state to practice law, they have a legal obligation to keep client information confidential.
In order for someone to have confidential conversations with an attorney, several factors must be present. First, the person you talk to has to be a licensed lawyer. Second, the communication can only be between yourself and your attorney, not other people. Third, confidentiality only exists if you are actually a client of the attorney, or spoke to the attorney in an attempt to become a client. Fourth, you can only engage in confidential discussions if you are seeking legal advice, and not if you are trying to commit a criminal act. Finally, if you and your attorney engage in confidential discussions, only you have the ability to decide if your lawyer is allowed to reveal the confidential information.
In practical terms, attorney-client confidentiality simply means that your lawyer has a legal obligation to keep private what you discuss in private. If you decide to go to court or sue someone, much of what you say will likely become open to discovery. This means that the other side will likely be able to find out exactly what the facts are in the case. In practical terms, this means that almost everything that happens in a personal injury case will become public knowledge, or at least become known to each side in the lawsuit process.
Further, it’s important to realize that not every conversation you have with your lawyer will be confidential. For example, if you and your attorney have a discussion in a public place where others can overhear you, that discussion is not confidential.
Getting Confidential Advice
If you ever have a question about attorney–client privilege and the issue of confidential discussions, you should bring those questions up to your lawyer. You always need to be confident that your personal injury attorney is doing everything he or she can to help you. Maintaining privileged conversations is part of that relationship.
If you or someone you know is the victim of a personal injury and are seeking the advice of an attorney, be sure to contact a reputable personal injury attorney in your area immediately.