Bestowing Trust in Your Legal Advocate: Attorney-Client Communications in Personal Injury Cases

As seasoned practitioners, the Chicago attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have provided representation to Illinois residents in a diverse range of personal injury cases. During our decades of practice, we have continued to relay to our clientele that open and honest communication is a two-way street. On one side there is our promise to you, the client, which extends not only from our obligations as professionals, but from our personal desire to help persons harmed by others. On the other side there is your agreement to us, your legal advocates, to be as candid as possible in relaying any information to us that may be relevant to your claim, so that we represent you in the most effective manner possible.

Prior Injuries, Prior Accidents, Pre-existing conditions

It is important to openly and honestly discuss any pre-existing conditions or prior injuries with your attorney. Doing so can allow your lawyer to properly evaluate your case, identify potential issues in proving injury causation, and prepare your case accordingly. Keep in mind that, with the exception to privileged matters (i.e. attorney client communications), Defendants have the right to request information, documents, and records regarding matters relevant to the claim during the discovery process, including evidence of previous accidents, injuries, or treatment, as well as any conditions existing at the time of the crash.

Often time, victims may be hesitant to disclose a prior injury or pre-existing condition, because they may feel that revealing such information may result in the rejection or reduction of their claim. This approach is neither reasonable nor practical, and can actually work against a victim in the long run. Consider the obstacles that must be overcome, and the potential impact on your claim, when opposing counsel discovers that the Plaintiff was deceptive in disclosing information they were required to reveal. In short, be honest with your attorney, and trust in their legal expertise to address any issues of prior injuries or pre-existing conditions in the most appropriate manner given the facts of your particular case.

Prior claims

In addition to prior injuries and pre-existing conditions, your attorney may also inquire about any prior claims, lawsuits, litigation, settlements, or the like. In some cases, claimants may have hesitancies in revealing such information, because they have concerns that they may be perceived as overly-litigious. Others may feel that being previously sued or being a Defendant in a prior case, particularly if a ruling was entered against them, somehow makes them a less credible or sincere Plaintiff in a future case. However, the fact that you had a prior claim or were involved in previous litigation does not in and of itself make a claimant any less deserving of compensation, or less likely to prevail on an existing claim.

Another factor that may influence a claimant’s decision to disclose past claims or litigation, is the belief that it is unnecessary to do so, because such events are not relevant to their current claim. While this may in fact be true, relevancy is something that should be left for your attorney to evaluate. They can determine whether or not to object to a discovery request or the admissibility of evidence at trial, as well as when disclosing certain information may be required or is simply a better tactical approach.

Facts of the incident

Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, often making it difficult for the victim to recall precisely what occurred. As the adage goes, there are three versions to every story—your version, their version, and the truth. In personal injury cases, this would be the Plaintiff’s version, the Defendant’s version, and the outcome of the case. While you should certainly discuss your knowledge and perception as to how the accident occurred with your attorney, you should never attempt to fabricate events, fill in gaps, or provide untruthful or misleading information. If you can’t remember something, it is best to relay this to your attorney.

In example, let’s say you might have been talking on a cell phone or text messaging at the time an auto accident occurred. If you know for a fact that you were using a mobile device, your attorney needs to know this, because opposing counsel is likely to uncover this during the discovery process. If you are uncertain, then your attorney can check your cell phone records and evaluate whether a potential issue exists. In either event, being honest from the start can allow your attorney to determine the appropriate course of action, and do so before opposing counsel discovers such information.

If you were injured in an accident, contact the Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 77-516-4100, and allow our Personal Injury team to evaluate your case, free of charge, as well as discuss your legal rights and options to seeking compensation.

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