As an attorney, I have to rely on what my clients tell me. Absent the rare case where there is an impartial witness, that’s all I have. I never want to think that a client might be dishonest, and I believe that my trust is well placed. Every so often, though, a client makes the mistake of not being completely honest. Trust me, that is a BIG mistake. In my years of practice, I have heard almost everything. Nothing a client could possibly tell me surprises me, shocks me or causes me to think less of anyone else. If I know about whatever it is a client may want to withhold, I can almost always adapt my theory of the case to encompass that fact. But when a client withholds crucial facts from me, disaster could be the result.
In a recent case I handled, that’s exactly what happened. For the three years preceding trial, this client was feeding us incorrect information about how his injury occurred. All through the discovery process we were using incomplete information. Our client testified to this incomplete information at deposition. He even testified to the incomplete information at the trial! It was not until after I was done presenting our case at trial and the jury was about to start deliberating that the full truth was finally revealed to me. At this point, it was too late to undo the damage.
The worst part is that the whole truth made the case stronger. If the whole truth had been provided from the very beginning, this case never would have gone to trial, as the insurance company would have settled the case before it was even put in suit. This client screwed himself out of a substantial sum of money that he justly deserved because he couldn’t see fit to tell his attorney the whole truth.
There is a lesson to be learned here: Always tell your attorney the WHOLE truth! Don’t be scared or embarrased, we have heard it all before. Don’t forget that your private discussions with your attorney are confidential, and also protected by the attorney-client privilege. And always remember that what you DON’T tell your attorney could end up costing you a significant sum of money!!
Thanks for reading,
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901