When an individual is injured in an accident due to the recklessness or negligence of another party, they may choose to file a personal injury claim to recover damages. This is generally a difficult time in that individual’s life as they may be racking up medical bills, be out of work, and potentially suffering through a painful and emotionally taxing injury.
Turning to loved ones for advice and much-needed support seems like a no-brainer for those who have been injured. Our Monmouth County attorneys are here to explain when that might not always be a great idea when attorney-client privilege might not extend to your family and friends, and the potential ramifications of breaking attorney-client privilege by sharing information about your Monmouth County personal injury claim with family and friends.
Monmouth County, NJ Personal Injury Attorneys Define Attorney-Client Privilege
Written, electronic, verbal, in-person, and all other forms of communication between an attorney and his or her client is protected by the attorney-client privilege. This means that anything you discuss with your attorney regarding your personal injury claim may not be used as evidence in whatever proceedings you have hired your attorney for, nor may it be shared with any other parties including law enforcement agencies, employers, businesses, or other organizations.
This attorney-client protection only covers communications between individuals and an attorney when the attorney has either been retained or in consideration to be retained. In other words, communications to an attorney whom you do not intend to hire, such as a friend who happens to be an attorney, are not protected by attorney-client privilege since you are technically not a “client”.
Red Bank, NJ Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss Sharing Information With Family Members
In order for an individual other than the client themselves to be protected by attorney-client privilege, that person must be considered necessary, essential or highly useful to the matter at hand. While there are situations in which family members or close friends may fall into this category, it is certainly not always the case.
For example, expert witnesses are considered to be essential and highly useful third parties within personal injury claims. They provide unbiased testimony in order to prove your case and are not able to be easily replaced with another individual or party. However, family members who were not immediately involved in your incident are generally in a supportive role which will likely not meet the criteria of being legally “necessary”.
With this in mind, sharing information which is essential to your personal injury claim with family members may be considered a violation of attorney-client privilege. In this case, you may be legally obligated to share this information with outside parties, including insurance companies.
Before speaking with friends and family, it is a great idea to talk to your personal injury attorney first. Your attorney will be able to help you understand what may be considered confidential and what is okay to share with friends and family for moral and emotional support.
Are There Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege in New Jersey?
There are a few exceptions to attorney-client privilege in which an attorney may share communications with outside sources. Dependent on the situation, attorneys may choose to share this information with law enforcement, the individual who was threatened, or others. These are uncommon in personal injury cases but include:
- If the attorney has reason to believe that a client or another person intends to commit a crime or other unlawful actions which may result in bodily harm, death, or the financial injury of another person
- If the attorney has reason to believe that a client intends to commit a fraudulent act
- Compliance with another law which may take precedence
- As evidence which may be a defense of a charge filed against the attorney
Contact our West Long Branch Personal Injury Attorneys Today
At Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh, our personal injury attorneys have secured several landmark decisions for clients across New Jersey including West Long Branch, Red Bank, Freehold, Asbury Park, Middletown, Howell, and the greater Monmouth County area. Lean on our extensive experience to help secure fair and full compensation for your injuries.
Contact us online or by calling our West Long Branch offices at (732) 440-3950 today to speak with a member of our legal team in a free and confidential consultation regarding attorney-client privilege or any other needs and concerns surrounding your personal injury claim including car accidents, bicycle accidents, drunk driving accidents, construction accidents, wrongful death and more.