As car accident lawyers, we always advise our clients to tell us the truth regardless of how embarrassing or damaging it can be to your case. Lying to your lawyer is NOT okay even if you won’t be guilty of committing a criminal offense.
If we had a dollar for every time we’ve been lied to since we started practicing law, we could probably retire in a few years or so. Let’s discuss further how lying to your lawyer can hurt your case.
What is Your Situation?
The situation under which you lie to your lawyer may or may not affect your case. If for example, you are at a party, your lawyer asks you what type of a car you drive and you point out to a Lamborghini when in fact you drive a Toyota, that’s inconsequential but if you are at your free initial consultation and you tell him the exact same thing, it could affect the outcome of your case.
Telling your lawyer a story that omits bad facts will do nothing but damage your case. Every case has bad facts and it’s your lawyer’s job to deal with them. Dealing with bad surprises later on in your case is much worse than learning about them earlier on in the case.
Example: you are involved in a car accident but prior to that, you were texting while driving. You fail to reveal this fact to your lawyer and he is caught pants down when opposing counsel presents CCTV footage of you texting while driving to the judge. At this point, your lawyer will not be able to defend your actions but if you had told them earlier, he would have figured out a way to help you.
Same case applies if you have been in a previous accident and you filed for a claim or you failed to seek medical treatment. We’ve seen cases where clients leave out important facts like these and they end up losing their cases or receiving settlement amounts that they don’t deserve.
Example: John was in a previous accident and suffered severe injuries for which he filed for a claim but never sought medical treatment. He was recently rear ended while waiting at a red light to turn left. He went to the emergency room where he claimed to have severe pain in the head, neck lower back and right hip. The man underwent a MRI scan, which revealed serious and major injuries. John lied to his lawyer that he had never filed for injuries before so when a defense attorney was involved, they revealed that he had on at least four separate occasions filed auto accident claims alleging injuries to the exact body parts. In other words, he was committing auto insurance fraud and he might face criminal charges.
What If I’m Guilty?
If you are guilty, you should admit your guilt to your car accident lawyer because they will still be able to defend you. It’s the plaintiff’s burden to prove that you were responsible for the accident. If they can’t prove that you should be held legally liable for the accident then you should not be found guilty even if you did in fact cause the accident.
There are many factors that can affect the plaintiff’s ability to make their case. For instance, their theory may not make any sense, they may obtain evidence illegally or perhaps they are a known pathological liar.
What your lawyer cannot do is lie for you or encourage you to give false testimony. The fact that you are guilty only limits what they can present in court or put in filings. Lawyers are still officers of the court and they have ethical responsibilities to the justice system independent of their duties to their clients.
They can offer arguments that don’t make any sense as long as there’s supporting evidence but what they cannot do is commit or allow you to commit perjury.
What if I lie To Opposing Counsel?
If you decide to lie to opposing counsel in connection with legal proceedings, you’d be committing a crime especially if you are under oath. Lying to opposing counsel in legal matters is like lying to a judge.
If opposing counsel asks you questions regarding the car accident on behalf of their client, such as through interrogatories and you lie, there could also be consequences. And it’s improper to alter evidence to make yourself appear innocent. If the court discovers that you have been lying the entire time, they might decide to declare the other side the victor or may enter orders to make it more difficult for you to win your case.
What You Should Remember When Confiding In Your Car Accident Lawyer
Lying to your lawyer almost always backfires. At Kevin P Landry law offices, we assure all our clients that anything they say to us will always remain confidential and we stick to our word. In order to give you the best possible defense, we have to know all the evidence in a case even if it makes you look guilty.
As personal injury lawyers, we are ethically bound to zealously represent all our clients. In most cases, we rarely even know if our clients were actually responsible for the accident or not. Just because they say they caused the accident, doesn’t mean it’s true. They could be trying to protect someone by admitting they are guilty or they could be guilty of doing something completely unrelated to the accident.
You could be guilty of causing the accident but there could be a perfect explanation for what happened. For instance, your car brakes might have stopped working or you could have suffered a heart attack while at the wheel. This can be used as a valid defense and it might exonerate you.
For this reason, we don’t typically ask our clients if they are responsible for the accident. Instead, we use the facts at hand to create a solid case that would get them a fair settlement amount.
If you have been in a car accident and you wish to talk to a car accident lawyer in Rhode Island or Massachusetts you can contact us at 800-200-7752 or visit our offices to schedule your free initial consultation.