What Does Attorney-Client Privilege Mean in Personal Injury Lawsuits?

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To be successful in a lawsuit, especially in one that goes to trial, a client and his or her attorney must work closely together.  Unless the case is resolved very quickly and easily, you and your lawyer will get to know each other well over a long period of time.  While the relationship between an attorney and a client is a professional relationship rather than a personal one, it often requires your lawyer to know or find out things about you that your co-workers, college professors, or even your medical doctors and dentists never have.  Attorney-client privilege is a legal right of clients to have their lawyers protect the information that clients tell them in confidence. It applies not only in criminal cases but also in civil cases, such as car accident injury lawsuits.


What Is an Attorney-Client Privilege?

The word “privilege” has several meanings.  In ordinary speech, people sometimes use it as a synonym for “wealth,” but this is not its meaning in a legal context.  Attorney-client privilege is also not the same as other legal “privileges,” such as having one’s driving privileges restored after fulfilling the requirements to have one’s suspended driver’s license reinstated.  Privilege, in the context of attorney-client privilege, means confidentiality. In other words, all information that you share with your lawyer, once you have hired him or her as your legal representative in a lawsuit or other court case, must be kept private.  The purpose of attorney-client privilege is to encourage clients to tell their lawyers the whole truth so that the lawyer can represent the client’s case accurately and effectively in court. It even applies to relationships where the client had a consultation with a lawyer but later decided not to hire that lawyer.


Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege

Confidentiality is the default between lawyers and clients, just as medical privacy is the default between physicians and their patients, but just as there are certain situations in which health professionals may share medical information about a patient with third parties, there are situations when a lawyer may or must reveal information that a client discloses to him or her in confidence.

In other words, everything you tell a lawyer stays between you and the lawyer, even if you do not end up hiring the lawyer.  Only in very limited circumstances may the lawyer reveal confidential information you told him or her.


Contact Walton Telken Injury Attorneys About Car Accident Cases

Contact Walton Telken Injury Attorneys in the St. Louis, Missouri area for a legal consultation if you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident and need a St. Louis Car Accident lawyer.

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