Midway through a lawsuit is no time to spring something on your personal injury lawyer. Failing to tell your lawyer about prior car crashes or injuries can really hurt an injury case. I prefer my clients give me the heads up on all information so I can tackle it head on as opposed to having it surprise on me.
For example, as part of my intake process I ask clients “have you ever been in a car crash before.” I follow up with “it doesn’t matter if you have, I just need to be aware of it.” The idea here is I need the information to properly advise a client.
Some people think that if they tell me they were in a prior crash that I will not help on their case. This is incorrect. If there is a prior crash and an ongoing injury I can argue that the new crash made the old injury worse. This is called an exacerbation of pre-existing condition case.
If I don’t know my client has a prior crash or injuries I’m not on notice that I should get their prior medical history. When I file suit my clients prior medical records become fair game to the other side. Something in the records stating my client has a lifetime of prior injuries could significantly de-value my case in litigation. If I would have known the information beforehand I’d be in a better position to advise the client. Lots of priors and I might tell my client to resolve the case before a lawsuit. No priors than I can tell them whether or not the other insurance company is being fair on the claim. One way or another I need the information.
Truthfulness goes both ways. I want my clients to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular case. If I’m in a position where I’m only relaying good or only relaying bad to a client than I’m not doing my job. As an injury lawyer, my job is to maximize the financial recovery for my client. The more information I have the better I am and the more money I can obtain.
Finally, lawyers are humans. If we feel like our clients are trying to pull a fast one it’s going to alter the attorney client relationship. Keeping an honest line of communication on both sides will help your case!
Thanks to Brian Dettman of Dettman Law Group for his insight into personal injury lawsuits.