Matthew C. Minner | November 15, 2021 | Personal Injury
There are many potential reasons you may need to hire an attorney one day. Perhaps you’re seeking representation after being injured in a car accident. Maybe a dog bit you. You might even enlist the help of an attorney when pursuing compensation for nursing home abuse.
Those are merely a few examples. Regardless of your specific reason for hiring an attorney, there is a good chance you will be sharing sensitive information with them throughout the duration of your case. You might want to keep information confidential in various instances.
This is why attorneys must follow certain attorney-client privilege rules. In general, attorney-client privilege arrangements prevent lawyers from disclosing confidential client information.
However, attorney-client privilege arrangements can be more nuanced than many realize. This overview will help you better understand the nature of attorney-client privilege and how it may impact your case.
What You Need to Know About Attorney-Client Privilege
An attorney cannot provide a client with adequate representation if the client doesn’t trust them. Openly discussing aspects of your case with your lawyer will play a critical role in its outcome. If you lie or conceal certain details, your attorney cannot approach your case from an informed perspective. This limits their ability to properly serve you.
As such, clients can generally expect their lawyers to keep their secrets. That said, it’s worth noting that there can be instances when attorneys may potentially share client information.
You can waive attorney-client privilege to allow your lawyer to disclose sensitive information. Often, an attorney will request a waiver in writing. Alternatively, suppose you discuss your confidential information with your lawyer in the presence of a third party. This would destroy attorney-client privilege between you and your attorney. The presence of a third party calls into question whether you meant for the information to be kept private.
Other common exceptions to privilege include:
- Seeking legal advice in furtherance of a crime.
- If a lawyer represents two parties in a legal matter, neither party can claim attorney-client privilege against the other party in future litigation related to the joint representation.
- A corporation’s shareholders may pierce the attorney-client privilege between the corporation and legal counsel.
- The Bureau of Prisons Rule allows law enforcement to monitor communications between an attorney and their imprisoned client if they reasonably suspect that the client will use the privilege for purposes of terrorism.
What’s important to understand is that attorney-client privilege does not ensure a lawyer will never reveal any piece of information a client discloses. You need to clarify when you want an attorney to keep your information secret if you feel a misunderstanding could potentially occur.
How Attorney-Client Privilege Impacts a Case
The ways in which attorney-client privilege can affect a case’s outcome vary depending on a number of factors. For example, maybe you were injured in a truck accident in Lexington, Kentucky. You could pursue compensation for your medical bills and related losses in the aftermatch. You might do so by filing a claim to collect from the insurance of the trucking company if a trucker’s negligence caused your accident.
However, Kentucky law states that the amount of compensation you may recover in such cases may be reduced by your own percentage of fault for the incident. An insurer or defendant might have grounds to argue that your injuries would have been less severe if you weren’t also negligent.
Your lawyer needs to be prepared to address such arguments. They won’t be able to prepare effectively if you don’t share any information with them relating to your own careless actions. Attorney-client privilege allows you to confidently share this information without worrying your attorney will reveal it without your permission.
Just make sure to ask your attorney about this topic if you’re still unsure of when attorney-client privilege applies or how it works. Fully understanding this aspect of your relationship with a lawyer will make you feel much more comfortable when discussing your case.