Attorney-Client Privilege in Maryland Car Accident Cases

The attorney-client privilege is a fundamental privilege essential in any Maryland car accident case. The privilege prevents an attorney and his client from being forced to disclose confidential communications made by the client to his attorney for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. To fall under the attorney-client privilege, the client must be seeking legal advice from a legal adviser in his capacity as such, the communication must relate to seeking legal advice, and the communication must have been confidential and made by the client. Communication that falls under the privilege is protected from disclosure permanently by the client and by the attorney. However, the protection may be waived. The privilege exists in order to foster trust and confidence between attorneys and clients.

Under Maryland law, a person cannot be forced to testify in violation of the attorney-client privilege. In Maryland, if an individual invokes this privilege during a trial, a court is supposed to make a preliminary inquiry and hearing testimony about the privilege outside of the presence of a jury. The court must consider whether a privilege exists before requiring the individual to disclose the communication itself.

In a recent state appellate case, the court considered whether an individual was required to disclose whether her attorney had referred her to her chiropractor. In that case, the plaintiff’s car was hit from behind as two vehicles were exiting a highway. The plaintiff filed suit against the other driver alleging that she received a permanent back injury because of the accident. A jury found that the other driver caused the plaintiff’s injury but that she did not suffer a permanent injury and thus did not award her damages for pain and suffering. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued in part that the court should not have allowed the defendant to introduce evidence suggesting a referral relationship between the plaintiff’s former attorney and her chiropractor because this was protected under the attorney-client privilege. The court dismissed the challenge, finding that the plaintiff “opened the door” for the defendant. In a previous deposition, the plaintiff said that she was referred to the chiropractor by an emergency room doctor. Her lawyer also asked her who referred her. The defense counsel thus properly challenged her credibility as to her chiropractor referral. In addition, defense counsel did not ask her directly about whether she received the referral from her attorney, which would have been a violation under the state’s law.

Contact a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a Maryland car crash, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim as soon as possible. You may be entitled to damages for your injuries. The personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen represent accident victims in Baltimore and the surrounding region, including throughout Virginia and Washington, D.C. Our personal attorneys take pride in advocating for the rights of victims, and understand the complex issues that can arise in car accident cases. Contact us today at 1-800-654-1949 or fill out our online form set up a free consultation.

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