Attorney-Client Privilege – What it is and How You Benefit

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on March 10, 2022 in Personal Injury
Updated on April 24, 2024

attorney-client privilegeAttorney-client privilege is one of those legal terms people talk about a lot. Yet few injury victims are fully aware of the benefits of attorney-client privilege. When victims seek compensation for damages through a personal injury claim, this protection matters. Clients want to be sure what they tell an attorney will remain private.

At PKSD, we are committed to protecting the interests and confidentiality of our clients. Learn more about what attorney-client privilege is and how it applies to your claim.

If you have been injured because someone else was negligent or careless, you do not have to handle the legal process on your own. Get started today in a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Milwaukee personal injury lawyers.

FREE Case Review. Call 24/7 to schedule. 414-333-3333

What is Attorney-Client Privilege in an Injury Claim?

Attorney-client privilege is an established legal rule. When it applies, what a client tells an attorney cannot be shared elsewhere. Attorneys may risk being disbarred if they break a client’s confidentiality.

This is the basic understanding that most people have about attorney-client privilege. What a potential client may not know, however, is when it begins and what limitations apply.

When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Begin?

Injured victims need to be clear about when attorney-client privileges do or do not apply. This matters, because when clients hold back critical details from an attorney, the advice given may not be fully accurate.

In a personal injury claim, such as after a car crash, dog bite or slip and fall incident, attorney-client privilege generally exists if:

  • The purpose of meeting with the attorney is to seek legal help
  • The attorney agrees to meet with you as a legal professional
  • You enter the meeting expecting what you share is confidential
  • The attorney does not say that what you share is not protected
  • An attorney-client relationship with that attorney already exists

How Do I Benefit From Attorney-Client Privilege in an Injury Claim?

The biggest benefit to an client in an injury claim is being able to be completely candid with your attorney. For instance, you can tell your attorney if you were partly at fault for what happened. Knowing this information early on gives your attorney time to plan how to limit any damage to your claim.

Holding back details, such as a preexisting condition, could seriously hurt your claim. People often try to hide prior injuries during a claim. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that nearly always backfires. Telling your attorney up front gives him or her the ability to plan how and when to disclose it. Instead of hurting your claim, an attorney may find a way to use this information to your benefit.

Does Attorney-Client Privilege Apply in a Free Consultation or at Other Times?

Injured victims often have concerns about sharing too much in a free consultation. This is one reason potential clients may hold back in that initial meeting. They may think that because there is no contract with that attorney, what they say is not protected. However, that is not the case. What you share, even in your initial free case review, is protected by attorney-client privilege. It does not matter if you have not yet signed a contract.

Other Times Attorney-Client Privilege Applies

There are other types of private conversations when attorney-client privilege applies. For example, if you speak with your attorney through other means that are private, including:

  • Confidential letters from you that are addressed and sent solely to your attorney
  • Emails to your attorney where no other parties are copied or blind-copied
  • Phone calls to your attorney where no one else is listening in on what is said

In any situation where you are uncertain if your attorney-client privilege applies, you are within your right to ask.

Are There Times When Attorney-Client Privilege Does Not Apply?

There are absolutely times when you should not expect the protection of attorney-client privilege. Anytime you share private details in a public place – whether online or in person – you cannot expect confidentiality.

For example:

  • Posting on social media – regardless of your privacy settings
  • Speaking at a restaurant or public place where others could overhear you
  • Copying friends or family members on a private email to your attorney
  • Sharing private details over the phone while in a public place

In short, if you include anyone else or are in a public area, you should have no expectation of privacy.

Could Attorneys Be Forced to Break Confidentiality Under the Law?

It is highly unlikely that the law could force an attorney to break confidentiality except in specific circumstances, such as:

  • Whenever a client reveals he or she plans to commit a crime
  • A client reveals critical details that could prevent a death

What Happens if a Client Shares Protected Information?

The client in an attorney-client relationship is not held to the same legal rule. However, even though clients cannot face any legal penalties for breaking confidentiality, it could hurt their claim.

One key point to remember – if you disclose confidential conversations about your claim, they are no longer protected. Even the attorney no longer has a legal reason to keep it private.

Contact Our Trusted Law Firm for Help After a Personal Injury

At PKSD, we have a team of experienced legal professionals ready to help you with your claim. Our firm has a history of proven results, recovering millions for our clients. More importantly, at our firm, you are never just a number, and we are prepared to work tirelessly on your behalf.

Find out your potential legal options today. We offer a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys to discuss your situation and answer your questions. If we represent you, there are also no upfront costs, and we do not get paid unless we get you compensation.

Call our firm 24/7 to learn more. 414-333-3333

Back to top