What Should I Disclose to My Personal Injury Lawyer?

oregon attorney client confidentiality
Once a Fee Agreement is signed, Attorney-Client privilege applies.

Telling your lawyer about your current injuries and about injuries from the past is an essential part to your client-attorney relationship. In order to prepare a proper defense, your attorney needs to know the complete truth about your medical history. For instance, if you’ve come to an attorney after an Oregon car-collision, and your back hurts, your attorney needs to know every time that your back has hurt in the past. If you’re suffering emotional difficulties as a result of your accident, your lawyer needs to know every time that you’ve experienced depression in the past, including circumstantial depression (a family loss, divorce or job loss).

Do I need to tell my lawyer about other accidents?

Yes, you also need to tell your lawyer about any other accident that you may have been in. This is information that any insurance company can uncover with nation-wide databases. If your lawyer is unaware of a prior accident, and the insurance company is, they will make a low offer for your personal injury case, knowing your attorney is not ready for trial. Getting a low settlement is even more of a risk if your case goes to trial, because a jury will definitely be able to see that the complete story isn’t available to your lawyer, and they will penalize you by siding with the insurance company. It’s better to lay all your cards on the table, and be honest about your accident related injuries—your chances of winning your case increase dramatically.

What else do I need to tell my lawyer?

Your Criminal History

Usually, minor unrelated incidents will not be relevant to your case – but you might not be able to recognize what’s relevant or not, and your attorney can, so it’s important to share this information.

Prior Injuries and Accidents

Opposing counsel will look for anything that might have caused your injuries before the accident, so that they won’t have to pay your medical bills. If you do have any pre-existing conditions, your attorney will need to prove these were either made worse by the accident, or are unrelated.

Injuries After the Accident

If you get hurt after the accident, these costs will need to be separated from the costs for the injuries sustained by the accident – and even then the opposing counsel will probably try to claim your treatments stem from this second injury, not the first. So you need to discuss this with your lawyer and your doctors.

Bankruptcy

When you file for bankruptcy before your lawsuit is settled, the damages claim can become part of the bankruptcy estate. But an experienced attorney might be able to work with your bankruptcy attorney to try and see that as much of the money as possible goes to you and not to your creditors.

Divorce

If you’re filing for divorce during a lawsuit, your spouse might be entitled to some of the money you will receive in your settlement. Talk to your lawyer about this to ensure that he or she can make decisions with this information in mind.

Why do I need to tell my lawyer all this?

Your lawyer’s job is to tell the best possible story, taking into account all of the facts. If your lawyer does not have all the facts, then your lawyer will not be able to tell a complete story. If your case gets to a jury, they will see the holes in your story and will not trust you. And juries do not give money to people they do not trust.