Law Offices of Nooney Roberts Hewett & Nowicki :


What you mention during your consultation with a Florida personal injury lawyer is kept private? The majority of personal injury attorneys provide free, private consultations. What, however, precludes the lawyer from sharing information uncovered during the meeting? 

What Personal Information is Privileged in a Jacksonville Personal Injury Case?

Information that cannot be disclosed without authorization is privileged information. Privilege is the special legal right, exemption, or immunity granted to a person[1]. In a Florida court case, the following examples of privilege may be relevant: 

  • Attorney-client privilege o This is the client’s right to refuse and disclose and to prevent any other individual from disclosing confidential communications between the client and attorney[2].
  • Communication privilege for spouses 
  • Protection against self-incrimination

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides rights against self-incrimination. In a criminal court, a person cannot be compelled to testify against himself[3]. "Pleading the Fifth" is a common term for declining to provide testimony that could incriminate you. 

For this article’s purpose, we're interested in how Florida personal injury cases may be impacted by the attorney-client privilege. 

Personal Injury Case: When Does Attorney-Client Privilege Apply?

Once the attorney-client relationship has been established, your lawyer cannot be forced to provide confidential material pertaining to the case. Similarly, you cannot be forced to testify in court on any privileged information you gave your attorney. 

There are, however, criteria for privilege: 

  • Information was disclosed between a lawyer and a client or prospective client.
  • The dialogue between the client and the attorney was intended to help the client get legal counsel.
  • The person expected that the disclosed information would be kept private.
  • During the meeting, the attorney functioned as a legal practitioner.

While a third person is present, you need to use caution when providing information. In most cases, privilege does not apply when there is another person in the room who hears the information. 

Are Free Consultations Considered Privileged?

There is some controversy over when the attorney-client relationship is covered by the privilege. Attorney-client privilege is applicable if you hire a lawyer and sign a retainer agreement.

Unless it falls within a few specific circumstances, whatever you communicate to your attorney in confidence should stay confidential. 

When you meet with a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation, you haven't actually hired them. At that time, there is no attorney-client relationship. Are the details you share during the free consultation truly private and confidential? 

You don't need to retain a lawyer for the information to be considered privileged as aforementioned. The rules merely specify that the discussion and disclosure must be done to get legal counsel. 

Therefore, a court would probably conclude that the information you gave during the meeting came within the attorney-client privilege if you met with an injury lawyer to explore your legal options for bringing a vehicle accident case. 

Instances When Attorney-Client Privilege is Waived

Most of the time, discovery requests cannot be used to get privileged information. Depositions, interrogatories, and requests for production are all examples of discovery requests. As a result, neither the defendant nor his or her lawyer can be ordered to disclose the information in court. 

The attorney-client privilege, however, may not always apply or may even be waived in some circumstances. 

A client can first willingly relinquish the attorney-client privilege. If the client agreed, the lawyer would be free to disclose the information.

It could be required to waive privilege in order for the lawyer to defend a legal claim or negotiate a settlement. 

In other instances, privilege is not applicable because the information is not protected by law or policy. There are a number of circumstances, including but not restricted to: 

  • When requesting legal advice on how to commit a crime or perpetrate fraud, a client or prospective client discloses information
  • When the client passes away and the decedent's estate is the subject of lawsuit brought by heirs or potential heirs 
  • If an attorney represented both parties in an issue and there is now a disagreement between the parties over the joint representation

When there is probable cause that privilege is being exploited to hide terrorism, law enforcement officers monitor communications between attorneys and inmates.

It is possible for certain information about a subject to fall under the category of privileged information while other information does not. For instance, even though a client and his attorney's private conversation is protected, the date and time of their meeting might not be. 

Why You Can Trust Your Matters Disclosed with Nooney, Roberts, Hewett & Nowicki

You should disclose to your lawyer all information pertaining to your injury case until the attorneyclient privilege is established in the relationship. The attorney-client privilege has the advantage of allowing you and your lawyer to communicate openly. There is no need for you to worry that the information will be shared with a third party. 

Withholding information from your attorney concerning your injury claim might be detrimental to your case. For instance, if you previously were hurt or were involved in an accident, don't lie about it to prevent the opposing party from raising the issue of a pre-existing condition. 

Instead, inform your attorney right away. If your attorney is aware of the situation, they can devise a plan of action for managing it. 

During a deposition or trial is the last place you want your lawyer to find out about detrimental facts you withheld. Then, it could be too late to make any changes, or your options for solving the case can be quite restricted. 

Contact Nooney, Roberts, Hewett & Nowicki Today!

The attorneys at Nooney, Roberts, Hewett & Nowicki have decades of combined experience fighting for victims of brain injuries. As a passionate firm, we fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve. Our expert legal team can help you along this complicated and intricate process.  

Call us at (904) 398-1992 or fill out a quick form to schedule a free initial consultation with our aggressive negligent security attorneys! ¡Hablamos español! We serve clients throughout Florida, including, but not limited to, those in the following localities: Duval County including Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville, and Jacksonville Beach; Hillsborough County including Brandon, Riverview, and Tampa; Leon County including Tallahassee and Woodville; Orange County including Ocoee, Orlando, and Winter Garden; St. Lucie County including Fort Pierce, Lakewood Park, and Port St. Lucie; and Walton County including DeFuniak Springs, Miramar Beach, and Santa Rosa Beach.

[1] Privilege, Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009).

[2] Attorney-Client Privilege, Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009).

[3] U.S. CONST. amend. V.

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