The law on attorney client privilege varies from state to state, but the law is based upon the founding principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution which guarantees citizens the right to the candid advice of an attorney. Attorney client privilege is more commonly discussed in criminal cases, but the privilege also applies to your personal injury lawyer in a civil case. As a general rule, what you tell your attorney is privileged, but in a personal injury case the privilege is fairly weak, especially after a lawsuit is filed.
Most of the things that you would want your personal injury attorney to keep secret or privileged can be asked of you directly by the opposing attorney in deposition or at trial of your case. As a plaintiff in a personal injury case your life often becomes somewhat of an open book. Opposing counsel generally has a right to ask in deposition about prior injuries, your driving record, your medical history, your work history, your family history, the names of your friends and co-workers, and other very personal questions. While the information may not be admissible at the trial of your injury case, they have the right to “dig around.” Telling your attorney information does not prevent opposing counsel from asking the same questions.
When you are involved in a life changing personal injury case, you need a board certified personal injury attorney that understands your rights, and knows which information you have to give to the insurance company and which information can be kept secret.