The attorney-client privilege protects your conversations with your lawyer.
Personal injury cases often involve things that are very personal. You may need to tell your lawyer something embarrassing that has happened to your body as a result of your accident, or that you can no longer have sexual relations with your spouse since you were injured. You may even need to disclose a past medical issue or addiction that you don’t want to share with anyone else. But how can you be sure that what you say to your attorney will be private?
The good news is that your conversations with your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege. This is a basic concept that binds all lawyers, and will make sure that whatever you tell your lawyer is kept confidential.
What Is the Attorney-Client Privilege?
When you go to a lawyer for legal advice, your attorney cannot reveal what you say to her without your permission. This is true even if you do not end up hiring the attorney; if you are a client or a potential client and are seeking legal advice, then the conversation will likely be protected by privilege.
The attorney-client privilege is part of an attorney’s ethical and legal obligation. As a practical matter, this means that even if a court orders your lawyer to disclose what you told her, she will not be obligated to do so. An attorney who violates this rule may be subject to discipline, including losing his or her license to practice law.
To take advantage of this privilege, certain conditions must be met. The person has to be a licensed lawyer — not a law student, paralegal, or someone who is no longer licensed. The conversation has to be just between you and the attorney, and not involve other people. If you have a talk in a public place and someone overhears you, then that conversation is not privileged. You have to either be a client or a potential client, and the subject matter has to be something that you are seeking legal advice for — not just a casual conversation. However, if you are trying to commit a criminal act — such as asking your lawyer for advice on how to get away with robbing a bank — then your lawyer may not be obligated to keep that secret. In all other situations, however, only you as the client can decide whether or not your attorney can reveal what you told them. The privilege belongs to you, not to the lawyer.
One important thing to know about the privilege is that even though your lawyer has to keep what you tell them confidential, if you tell them certain things, it may impede their ability to represent you. For example, if you tell your lawyer that you didn’t really hurt your back during the accident but are pretending to be hurt, then your attorney can’t tell anyone that — but they are ethically bound to refrain from claiming that you hurt your back. They will not put you on the stand when they knows that you would lie about your back injury under oath.
In personal injury cases, many private details become public because of the nature of the case — records from doctors and details about your injuries will become a part of the case because the other side needs this information to defend against the lawsuit. Keep in mind that even though what you tell your lawyer is privileged, this same information may later become evidence in the case.
Trust is an important part of the relationship between an attorney and a client, which is why the attorney-client privilege is so important. When you consult with a lawyer, your conversations will be kept confidential in accordance with this law. This rule lets you feel comfortable giving your attorney all of the details about what happened to you so that you can get the best possible recovery amount.
If you have been hurt in an accident, contact the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 or email@example.com. We will work hard to protect your legal rights and to ensure that you recover for your losses. Initial consultations are always free, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you!