In order to do the best job he can for you, an experienced personal injury attorney will ask you questions about your life. In some cases, questions may seem embarrassing or personal, and you may not want to answer. Keep in mind that your attorney is not asking because he wants to pry into your personal matters, but because his goal is to win your case. The purpose is to ensure that he is prepared for anything the defense might use against you and that he is aware of any factors which can improve your case.
What type of questions can you expect?
Here are some of the issues you may be asked about or should voluntarily disclose to your attorney.
- Prior injuries or medical problems, including mental illnesses that you have been diagnosed with.
- Substance abuse problems
- Other lawsuits
- Subsequent accidents
- Marriage and family problems
- Prior criminal charges
- Plans for or ongoing proceedings for divorce or bankruptcy
- Working “off the books”
- Social Media posts by you or people you know that could be damaging to your case.
Read more about how Social Media can hurt your case.
What’s the harm in holding back?
You may want to withhold information from your attorney because you believe it is not relevant or you believe it will never come out. Remember, it’s your attorney’s job to fight for your rights, but the insurance company’s attorney has the opposite goal. They will ask difficult questions during a deposition or trial that you will be obligated by law to answer truthfully. For your benefit, make sure your attorney is prepared to confront issues before they are brought to light by the other side.
The best case scenario for an insurance company is when the injured party is caught lying or withholding information. A case that should have been easy for you to win can suddenly become easy to lose.
Why you can’t just lie about it
You may be tempted to lie during your deposition or during a trial in order to protect your secret. This is not only illegal and will have consequences, it’s also the best way to damage your case. If you are caught in a lie, even a small one, it puts you at a disadvantage in front of a jury. They may question your credibility, which can lead to doubts about your version of the story or how seriously you really are injured. The insurance company’s lawyer knows this and it means any settlement offer will be much lower than it should be, and if you go to trial, your chances of winning are greatly reduced.
Don’t take any chances, being honest means avoiding legal trouble and giving your attorney the best chance of winning your case. It’s the best thing for you!
Don’t worry, your attorney has to keep it confidential
When you are faced with tough questions or the decision of whether to tell your attorney about potentially personal information, remember that your actions will have serious consequences for your case. One thing to keep in mind is that your attorney is bound by “privilege,” which is a legal obligation, within the defined limits, to not disclose any information given to your attorney while he is representing you. That means the information you give your attorney will not be used by him in any way to hinder your case, but he will be prepared to argue in your favor if the other side raises the issue on their own.
It’s also possible that something you may consider irrelevant can actually benefit your case. Only your attorney has the experience necessary to know whether something is important or not, so don’t make that decision yourself.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been seriously injured and are seeking compensation, choose an attorney that has the experience needed to win your case. Then, put your faith in him and be honest, tell him everything he needs to know. He’ll keep it confidential and he’ll be ready to make sure any damage is contained if the other side brings it up.