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What Does Attorney-client Privilege Really Mean?

After experiencing a personal injury, some individuals might be afraid to contact an attorney.

They might worry about the costs associated with a consultation, or be concerned about confidentiality. If you're one of these individuals and you’re hesitating about hiring a lawyer to defend your interests in a legal compensation claim, then you might be glad to know that it is both free and confidential thanks to attorney-client privilege.

But what does attorney-client privilege mean exactly? When is it waived? How can it help injury victims? And how long does it last? In this article, we will have a look at these questions in more detail.

What Does Attorney-client Privilege Really Mean?

Attorney-client privilege is defined as "a client's right to refuse to divulge and to prohibit any other person from exposing confidential communications between the client and the attorney."

The attorney-client relationship is extremely important, and one of its most fundamental components is attorney-client privilege. It is the backbone of the legal profession. It encourages the client to be open and honest with his or her attorney without fear of others getting involved. Additionally, if the attorney is properly informed, the attorney can provide the best legal advice.

Attorney-client privilege can encourage open and honest communication between attorneys and their clients by reducing concerns about disclosure of those conversations to opposing counsel, the court, or the public.

In most cases, an attorney-client relationship does not begin unless both the practitioner and the client consent to it. However, the attorney-client privilege covers some conversations exchanged before the potential client engages the attorney, as well as some when no hiring is considered.

The Benefits of Attorney-client Privilege for Injury Victims

Injured victims sometimes worry about disclosing too much information during a free consultation. This is one of the reasons potential clients may be hesitant to attend the initial appointment. They may believe that what they say is not protected because no contract exists with that counsel. Fortunately, this is not the case.

When a personal injury victim meets with a lawyer for the first time during the first consultation, everything discussed between the client and lawyer is kept private. The attorney-client privilege protects anything you say, including information you share with your lawyer during the initial meeting. It makes no difference whether you have or have not signed a contract yet.

This level of confidentiality is required to ensure that clients feel comfortable submitting accurate information and so that attorneys can also provide the best advice and legal representation. This way, you can feel comfortable disclosing information to your personal injury attorney.

After all, how can a client feel safe from the possibility of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands? That’s why the consultation is protected so long as the potential client seeks legal advice or representation. This is true even if the potential client never pays the lawyer or hires them.

Regardless of whether you engage a lawyer, virtually all communications are protected from the initial point of contact. As previously stated, in a personal injury lawsuit, attorney-client privilege begins the moment you contact an attorney or their legal team. Even if you do not employ the attorney with whom you meet, your talks are kept private and cannot be disclosed to anyone else.

The ability to be entirely honest with your attorney is the most crucial benefit to a client in an accident claim. For example, you can inform your attorney if you were somewhat responsible for what happened. Knowing this information early on allows your attorney to prepare how to mitigate any damage to your claim.

By withholding information, you might jeopardize your claim. Unfortunately, people sometimes attempt to conceal previous injuries during a claim. This is a common error. Informing your attorney allows him or her to decide when to divulge this information. Providing all information that can be relevant to your personal injury claim to your lawyer, your attorney can use this information to your advantage instead of harming your case.

How is Attorney-client Privilege Waived?

In general, if a third party is present during a client-lawyer conversation, the attorney-client privilege is waived. This results in the attorney-client privilege being forfeited by both parties.

The waiver may be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the circumstances. This includes accidental disclosure. Third parties are anyone other than the client or the lawyer, or in some situations, an agent of the client or the lawyer.

Examples of typical privilege waivers include the following:

  • Sending sensitive email conversations to a third party without their knowledge.
  • Sharing the specifics of the lawyer's recommendation, either in writing or orally.
  • Sharing sensitive information with a third-party auditor or lender.

How Long Does Attorney-client Privilege Last?

Lawyers are not allowed to reveal oral or written interactions that the client reasonably expects to be kept private. This means that a lawyer who has received a client's personal details and information may not reveal them to anybody outside the legal team without the client's permission. The client can choose to forfeit the privilege, but the lawyer cannot.

Usually, the privilege continues to apply even after the attorney-client relationship has terminated and even after the client has passed away. In other words, unless an exception is made, the lawyer may never expose the client's secrets without the client's permission.

Talk to an Experienced Lawyer About Your Injury Today

At Worst Injury Law, we have a team of skilled legal professionals available to assist you with your personal injury claim. Our firm has a track record of success, collecting millions of dollars for our clients.

More importantly, you are never simply a number at our business, and we are prepared to fight diligently on your behalf. Working with an experienced injury lawyer is often the difference between winning or losing your case.

Call us at (208) 736-9906 today. Our attorneys are here to handle the time-consuming and challenging components of your personal injury so that you can go back to focusing on regaining your health and well-being as soon as possible.