Most people know they need to be cautious when speaking to the insurance company after an accident. However, you do not need to be cautious about what you tell your lawyer about the accident and your injuries. This is because conversations with a lawyer about a case are protected by attorney-client privilege. You may have heard this term before, but do you know what it means? Do you know when this privilege starts? How far does attorney-client privilege extend?
Below, the experienced Cleveland-based personal injury lawyers from Friedman, Domiano and Smith discuss attorney-client privilege in detail, including how it benefits injured victims. If you have questions after suffering an injury caused by another person’s negligence, we are ready to answer those questions. There is no upfront cost to talk to us about what happened.
Schedule a free legal consultation to learn more: 216-621-0070.
What is the Definition of Attorney-Client Privilege?
Attorney-client privilege is a rule that says conversations and communications with your attorney about your case are confidential. The content of these conversations cannot be shared with anyone else. If the insurance company wants to obtain these conversations, you must provide written consent.
Four conditions must exist for attorney-client privilege to apply:
- You were talking to your lawyer to get legal advice related to your case.
- You expected the conversation to be confidential.
- You have an attorney-client relationship.
- The lawyer was acting in a professional capacity during your conversation/communication.
If these conditions are met, then the following is protected by attorney-client privilege:
- In-person conversations
- Phone calls
- Voice messages
- Text messages
It is not hyperbole to say that attorney-client privilege is one of the most important parts of the attorney-client relationship.
The attorney-client privilege also extends beyond the end of the attorney-client relationship. This means that even after your case is over, the attorney who represented you cannot disclose privileged information without your consent.
What About the Free Consultation?
Your conversation with an attorney during a free consultation is protected by attorney-client privilege. This is because the four conditions of attorney-client privilege are met during a legal consultation.
It is important to note that if someone else is in the room besides your attorney the privilege might not apply.
If you have doubts or concerns about confidentiality, you should ask your lawyer any questions you have about attorney-client privilege.
What is the Benefit of Attorney-Client Privilege for Injured Victims?
The benefit of attorney-client privilege is that you can freely and openly discuss your case with your lawyer. The insurance company is not going to find out about the things you say.
If you have a preexisting injury, you can discuss it with your attorney and he or she can explain how it may impact your case. If you talk to the insurance company about this issue, you can be sure your preexisting condition will be used against you. However, your lawyer is on your side. Like you, your lawyer’s goal is to recover maximum compensation for the damages you suffered in the accident.
By openly discussing your case, your attorney will be better able to assist you. He or she will know the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This helps your attorney with investigating and gathering evidence.
For example, if you think you were partially at fault you can tell your lawyer why you think that. If your lawyer thinks you may be partially at fault, he or she can work on gathering evidence to establish your percentage of fault. This is important because insurance companies often try to assign an unfair percentage of fault to victims.
When is Attorney-Client Privilege Not in Effect?
Attorney-client privilege does not apply to social media posts. That is why it is often best not to talk about your case or your injuries on social media. In fact, it may be best to simply stay off social media until your case reaches a settlement or is decided in court.
Sometimes car insurance companies hire private investigators to attempt to gather information to use against a crash victim. That is why it is important to avoid discussing your case in public. Even if you are talking to your lawyer, public conversations are not protected by attorney-client privilege. In fact, if you talk to your lawyer on the phone in a public place, attorney-client privilege might not be in effect.
If you email your attorney about your case, make sure not to include other people in the email, such as family members or friends.
Can a Lawyer Ever be Legally Obligated to Break Confidentiality?
There are rare circumstances when a lawyer may be forced to break confidentiality. For example, if a client tells a lawyer that he or she is going to break the law, or a client gives a lawyer information that could prevent another’s death, the lawyer may have to break confidentiality.
Contact Friedman, Domiano and Smith Today
After getting injured in an accident, you are likely to have many questions and you need answers from someone who is committed to your best interests.
At Friedman, Domiano and Smith, we have been helping the injured in Northeast Ohio for many years. Our firm has obtained millions in compensation for medical expenses and other damages.
No upfront fees or legal obligations. Call us today at: 216-621-0070.
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