Attorney Client Privilege: How Can it Help You?
You probably have heard about attorney client privilege, or confidentiality of communications between a client and an attorney. But what does that actually mean—and how does it help you in your personal injury case?
What Does Confidentiality Mean?
As the name implies, attorney client privilege means that anything you tell your attorney, good or bad about your case or anything else related to the giving and receiving of legal advice is totally and completely confidential.
Your attorney cannot reveal to anybody, anything you tell your attorney or anything he or she tells you in the course of the legal representation. The others in your case can’t get that information, nor can a judge, nor can anybody else.
Why Do We Have the Privilege?
The rationale behind the privilege is that in order for your attorney to be able to fully and competently represent you, he or she needs the full and complete truth from you, and all the facts, good and bad. You deserve the absolute best legal representation that you can get, and you can’t get that unless your attorney knows all the facts from you.
The free flow of facts and information between attorney and client can only happen, if the client isn’t concerned that anything damaging, embarrassing, confidential, or harmful, is going to be told to other people.
This all means that at any point in your case, from the initial consultation, to the end of trial and beyond, you should always be free to tell your attorney anything that he or she asks, or anything that you think is important for your attorney to know.
Waiving the Privilege
There are times when the confidentiality or attorney client privilege can be lost or waived. This usually happens when a client allows someone else to listen in on otherwise confidential attorney client communications.
For example, if you were in a slip and fall accident, and you visit an attorney, and want your mom to sit in on the consultation with you, there is no confidentiality between the attorney and your mom. She could be asked what your lawyer told you later on, if she is called as a witness.
Likewise for anything you voluntarily disclose. If you go to work the day after you visit your lawyer and tell everybody in your office what your lawyer said about your case, you are making that information public, thus waiving the privilege.
What’s Not Private?
The only thing that your lawyer can’t keep private, is any information about your intentions to commit a crime in the future; you can’t ask your attorney what to do to commit a crime and get away with it (even though this happens often in movies and TV). Additionally, any intentions to commit bodily harm to yourself and others, may not be privileged.
Overall, attorney client privilege is one of the strongest, most powerful legal privileges that exist, and almost every judge and every lawyer will respect your right to absolute privacy and confidentiality in the information that you share with your attorney.
Call the Knoxville personal injury lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, for a free consultation, and to discuss the strengths of your case.