Jill Kolodner | May 30, 2023 | Personal Injury
If another person or party causes you harm or injury, you could have a claim for damages under Maryland personal injury laws. Parties can be held financially liable for the damages caused by their wrongdoing, intentional torts, and negligence. Many injured victims seek the help of an experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer to settle their claims.
However, how do you know you can trust your lawyer? Can you trust your attorney not to disclose information you provide in confidence? There could be things you do not want everyone to know about your life.
Attorney-client privilege gives you peace of mind that you can trust your attorney to keep your confidence and not disclose information without your consent.
What Is Privileged Information in a Maryland Personal Injury Case?
Some of the information in your personal injury case may be privileged. Privilege refers to the confidentiality of some information.
Privileged information is not subject to discovery requests, and a witness cannot be compelled to testify about it. Likewise, a court cannot force you or your attorney to disclose privileged information without a compelling legal reason.
What Does It Mean When My Attorney Tells Me I Am Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege?
Your discussions with your Baltimore personal injury lawyer are protected by the attorney-client privilege. Likewise, the information you provide your lawyer is protected by that same privilege. There are very few exceptions to the rule.
Attorney-client privilege keeps your communications with your attorney private. It remains between you and your lawyer unless you consent to allow your attorney to disclose the information.
It is crucial that you tell your personal injury lawyer everything that could impact your case.
For example, you should disclose the following to your attorney:
- Any prior accidents or injuries, such as a car accident or slip and fall accident
- Pre-existing conditions, even if your current health conditions have nothing to do with a prior accident or injury
- Your belief that you could be partially to blame for causing the accident
Attorney-client privilege encourages honest and complete communication between a lawyer and their client. An attorney cannot build a strong case if they are unaware of factors that could impact it. You never want your lawyer to learn about something for the first time at a deposition or trial when you knew about it earlier.
Confidentiality in a Baltimore Personal Injury Case
Rule 19–301.6 of the Maryland Attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct addresses the confidentiality of information.
It states that an attorney shall not release information relating to representing a client except in the following situations:
- A client provides the attorney with informed consent for the disclosure;
- Disclosing information is impliedly authorized to represent the client; or,
- The disclosure is permitted under the Rule.
Some instances in which an attorney can release confidential information include preventing substantial bodily harm or death when the attorney is reasonably certain the harm or death will occur without the disclosure. In addition, an attorney can release information to prevent a client from committing fraud or a crime that could result in substantial injury to someone’s property or financial interests. Attorneys can also release information to comply with the Rules, a court order, or other laws.
Attorney-client privilege might not apply in all situations. For example, if you discuss information with your attorney in the presence of a third party, attorney-client privilege might not apply. Privilege also does not apply if you want to obtain legal advice to help you commit fraud or if you are using the information to plan terrorist attacks from prison.
When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Attach in a Personal Injury Matter in Maryland?
Typically, attorney-client privilege attaches when you sign a retainer agreement hiring a personal injury lawyer.
However, some sources argue that attorney-client privilege applies if you meet all of the following requirements:
- The conversation was between you and your attorney;
- The purpose of the conversation with the attorney was to obtain legal advice about a matter;
- The lawyer acted in their professional capacity during the meeting; and,
- You expected your conversation and the information you disclosed to remain private and confidential.
There is debate about whether the attorney-client privilege applies during a free consultation with an attorney. You have not hired the attorney, but all the requirements above could apply. Therefore, one view is that attorney-client privilege applies to free consultations.
It does not hurt to ask an attorney if the information you discuss during a meeting is confidential and privileged. If you hesitate to disclose information during a consultation, let the attorney know about your concerns. The attorney can explain privilege as it applies to your situation so you can decide how to proceed.
Tips on Preparing for a Consultation With a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer
After an accident or injury, seeking immediate medical treatment for your injuries is essential. If possible, try to preserve evidence by getting the names of witnesses, taking pictures of the accident scene, and making a video of the scene.
Consult a Baltimore personal injury attorney about your case as soon as possible. An attorney will advise you on matters related to your case, including the deadlines for filing claims and the damages you can receive.
When you meet with an attorney to discuss a personal injury case, take copies of all documents you have related to the matter, including medical records and accident reports. It can also help to write down the facts and circumstances soon after the accident while the details are fresh in your memory.
An insurance adjuster might contact you to discuss the accident and your insurance claim. It is not in your best interest to talk on a recorded line, answer questions, or provide a statement without first talking with a lawyer. The adjuster works for the insurance company and does not have your best interests as their priority.
Having sound legal advice as early in the process as possible gives you the best chance to receive a fair outcome in your personal injury case.
Contact the Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Law Firm of WGK Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
WGK Personal Injury Lawyers
14 W Madison St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States