Family Members and Attorney Client Privilege
When a person suffers serious injury, and is seeking compensation for their injury damages through a personal injury claim, it can be tempting to seek guidance and support from close friends and family members. However, doing so in certain situations can void your rights to attorney client privilege, and potentially severely damage the strength of your claim.
In today’s article, we will discuss how and when including family members in communications with your attorney can break attorney client privilege, and how exactly discussing your case with a friend will negate your rights to attorney client privilege.
How Does Attorney Client Privilege Work? Wayne Accident and Injury Attorneys
Attorney client privilege essentially means that any communications you have with your attorney as their client or potential client are protected from being entered as evidence in whatever legal matter you are facing, and protected from being disclosed to any third party including businesses, insurance companies, government institutions, and legal authorities.
Importantly however, attorney client privilege does not apply for every communication you have with an attorney, only to conversations you have regarding your legal matter with an attorney whose services you have retained, or are thinking about retaining.
So if you discuss a legal matter with an attorney friend without having the intention to retain their services, this discussion will not be protected by attorney client privilege. Or, if you discuss matters unrelated to whatever legal matter your attorney is helping you with, these discussions will also not be protected.
Family Members and Attorney Client Privilege in Passaic County Personal Injury Claims
One of the most common questions our personal injury clients have is whether or not a family member can be present at our meetings, and how much information can be shared with family members as the personal injury process unfolds. Unfortunately, there is no one easy answer to this question, as there is a bit of legal grey area in the matter of when your attorney client privilege is still protected when third parties are privy to your communications with your attorney.
The general rule in this matter is that any third party who is “essential”, “necessary”, or “highly useful” to the success of your personal injury claim will also be protected by your own attorney client privilege. So while third party experts such as medical professionals or financial consultants can easily be proven to be necessary to your personal injury claim, proving the same for a family member can be difficult.
In situations where the injured party suffers from a mental disability, or even brain damage as a result of their accident, a family member may be very necessary to the personal injury process. In situations where a family member is there simply for “moral support”, this may not be the case.
West Milford Personal Injury Attorneys and “Breaking Attorney Client Privilege”
So, if you share any of the same information you shared with your West Milford personal injury attorney, or they shared with you, with a friend or family member who is not critical to the case at hand, it can be argued that you yourself broke attorney client privilege.
When this happens, insurance companies can compel you, your attorney, or even your friend or family member to disclose any information which was discussed during this break of attorney client privilege. While it is rare than the insurance company:
- would know that privilege had in fact been broken, and
- that whatever information was shared would be harmful to your case,
this is a very real possibility that you should be aware of.
With this in mind, it isn’t to say that you shouldn’t speak to friends or family members at all about your situation or your thoughts and feelings, simply that you should take care with exactly what you say.
It is highly recommended that you first discuss with your personal injury attorney what details of your case, if any, should or shouldn’t be shared with people not protected by attorney client privilege before speaking with those same friends and family members.
Contact Our Clifton Personal Injury Law Firm Today
At The Law Office of Fredson & Statmore, our attorneys have extensive experience successfully recovering full and fair compensation for our personal injury clients and their families in towns across New Jersey and Passaic County, including Clifton, Wayne, Paterson, West Milford, Little Falls, and Woodland Park.
With millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts already secured for our past clients, and a litany of positive reviews and referrals from our clients, our track record of success and the highly effective and attentive legal service that we provide speak for themselves.
To discuss in a free and confidential consultation your injuries resulting from any kind of accident including a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, bus and train accident, bicycle accident, a slip and fall, an accident on a dangerous or poorly maintained property, by a defective product, or any other kind of accident caused by the reckless or negligent actions of another party or parties, please contact us online.