How Does Attorney-Client Privilege Benefit Injury Victims?

folder with confidential informationProtecting one’s privacy is a growing concern in our society. It is important to be cautious about any information you reveal because you never know how it may be used against you later. Fortunately, injury victims who hire an attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege.

You may have heard that term before, but do you know what it means in practice? How does attorney-client privilege protect you and your claim?

Below, the experienced attorneys at TSR Injury Law discuss how attorney-client privilege benefits you as you pursue compensation after a personal injury. If you have any questions about your claim, you can contact our firm to schedule a free initial consultation. The things you discuss in a free consultation are kept confidential, which means there is no risk to you.

Defining Attorney-Client Privilege

When you seek legal advice from a Bloomington personal injury attorney, your discussion is protected by attorney-client privilege and cannot be shared with someone else without your written consent. There are some exceptions to this, but this is generally what attorney-client privilege means in practice.

Conversations and other communications (emails, phone calls, letters, etc.) with your attorney are protected if they satisfy four criteria:

  • There is an attorney-client relationship between you and your lawyer
  • Your lawyer was acting in his or her professional capacity when communicating with you
  • The purpose of you talking to your lawyer was to obtain legal advice
  • You had an expectation this conversation would be kept confidential

Benefits of Attorney-Client Privilege

This provides obvious benefits to injury victims. You can discuss any aspect of your claim with your attorney and it will be kept confidential. This frees people up to be open and upfront about the many details involved in an injury claim.

For example, you can discuss a preexisting injury and find out how it may impact your claim. It is understandable to be concerned about a preexisting medical issue (this is the kind of thing insurance companies try to use against injury victims), but this will be kept between you and your attorney.

By letting your attorney know, he or she will be prepared to deal with this issue when it arises, and it likely will. If you wait or try to hide this issue, it will be more difficult for your attorney to deal with it and preserve the value of your claim. You can feel free to discuss this issue with your attorney because it is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Attorney-client privilege also benefits injury victims during the discovery process. Knowing conversations are confidential helps make people more comfortable sharing a lot of information about the case. This may help the attorney build a strong case.

When Might Attorney-Client Privilege Not Apply?

Lawyers are prohibited from discussing things that were covered by attorney-client privilege and courts do not have the authority to force attorneys to discuss those things. Generally, attorney-client privilege cannot be waived unless the client does so. That said, if you tell your lawyer you are planning to commit a crime, he or she is required to report it.

You should also know the things you post to social media are not strictly between you and your lawyer. They are not covered by attorney-client privilege. That is why your lawyer may ask you to limit what you post on social media as it could be used against you. If you send emails to your lawyer, make sure to do it from your own personal account. If you send an email from your work email address it may not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

It is important to remember only private conversations are covered by attorney-client privilege. If you talk to your lawyer with someone else in the room, attorney-client privilege may not apply. If you have any questions about this, it is important to ask your lawyer. At TSR Injury Law, we understand your privacy concerns and are committed to maintaining confidentiality.

Learn How Our Firm Can Help You. Call Today

We have helped many car crash victims in Minnesota obtain compensation for their damages. We are experienced negotiators who are also prepared to go to court if the insurance company does not offer fair compensation.

We are here to help you and answer your questions. The initial consultation is free, and it comes with no requirement to hire our firm. If we validate your claim, and you choose to hire us, there will be no upfront fees. We will not be paid unless you get paid.

Have questions? Call today to schedule your free consultation (612) TSR-TIME

What Happens at a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?

meeting in a lawyer's officeMost personal injury claims do not end up at trial. There is usually a settlement with an insurance company that occurs with simple negotiation. However, sometimes filing a lawsuit may be the best way to pursue maximum compensation and force the insurance company to properly evaluate a claim.

Even though a lawsuit may have been filed, the case still usually settles. Only 10 percent of filed cases actually get tried to a jury. There are many steps before a trial takes place, and a settlement could be reached at any point. One of those steps may be a deposition, where you and others are questioned about the facts and details of the case.

The experienced Minneapolis personal injury attorneys at TSR Injury Law discuss personal injury depositions, including the topics that are likely to be discussed, the implications of a deposition and how you can prepare yourself. If you are seeking compensation for an injury caused by another’s negligence, give us a call today. The initial consultation is free.

What is a Deposition?

When a lawsuit is filed, one of the pre-trial steps is discovery. This is the point where each side investigates the other side’s claims and defenses they plan to use at trial. The discovery process often involves depositions with the relevant parties and witnesses.

In depositions, the attorney(s) for the other party, often an insurance company, will ask you a variety of questions about what happened, and the claims made in the lawsuit.

Typically, people will be deposed in a conference room or an attorney’s office. Zoom is often used now with the Covid concern.  The attorney questioning you or anyone else who is being deposed will probably be polite and friendly. The attorney’s goal is to get you reveal as much information as possible. This helps him or her to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a case and devise a strategy to use at trial.

There is only one deposition at a time, which means you will not be questioned at the same time as anyone else.

It is important to note a court reporter will be present to record what is said. You are required to participate in a deposition and the things you say will be used at trial. For example, your statements from a deposition may be brought up if they conflict with things you say at trial.

The defendant in the lawsuit does not need a subpoena to request a deposition, they simply need to provide notice.

What Should You Expect at a Deposition?

It is important to note TV and movies do a lot to dramatize depositions and other legal proceedings. In truth, depositions rarely look the way they do on TV, with a lot of shouting and finger pointing. As stated previously, the attorney questioning you wants you to reveal a lot of information. It is in his or her best interest to be nice.

Typically, there are certain kinds of information discussed in a deposition:

Personal Information

You will be asked to state your name, contact information, job and other details about your background. This will likely be done first, before you are asked about other things relevant to the case.

Your Physical Condition Before the Accident

One of the most important issues to be addressed by your lawsuit is how your physical health has changed since the accident. That means the attorney for the other party will need to assess what your health was like before the accident.

If you injured your left leg, the attorney may ask if you previously suffered any injuries to your left leg. He or she is probably looking for some reason to claim your injury is related to a situation that happened before the accident.

Discussing your condition in detail can be very important if you are claiming a brain injury or some other injury that is not visible to the naked eye, such as a concussion, soft-tissue injury or mental health issue.

What Happened in the Accident?

You may be asked numerous questions about the circumstances of your injury, including questions about:

  • How it happened
  • How you reacted
  • The weather
  • Witnesses
  • What you said after the accident
  • Your mental state

It is important to work with your attorney to thoroughly prepare for these questions so you can present a clear picture of what happened. You want to avoid omitting important information or making contradictory statements, which could damage your credibility.

Your New Injury

You will also be asked about your diagnosis, how your injury has been treated, follow-up care, how you have been following your doctor’s orders and how the injury has affected you emotionally and financially. This is an important step as you can provide strong evidence of the value of your medical expenses and other damages related to your injuries.

Tips on Answering Questions at a Deposition

It is important to work with a licensed attorney to prepare for a deposition. He or she can help you prepare what to say and how to say it to help protect the value of your claim.  Preparing for the deposition is almost as important as the actual deposition.  TST Injury Law attorneys have done thousands of depositions and our experience can cover every possible scenario that may occur.

Here are some general best practices to adhere to in a deposition:

State the Facts

It is best not to go off on a tangent and get into your opinion of things. It is better to answer the question being asked in as straightforward a manner as possible. Stick to the facts and do not provide extra information you were not asked for.

Take Your Time

There is no need to rush your answers. Wait for the attorney to finish asking the question before answering. Stay calm, stick to the facts and ask for clarification if you are uncertain of what you are being asked.

Be on Time

Showing up well-groomed and on time is always important. It is best to avoid making small talk before the questioning begins.

Call TSR Injury Law Today for a Free Consultation

If you have questions about your claim, the attorneys are TSR Injury Law are standing by to help you. We understanding this is a difficult time for you. We have helped many injury victims over more than two decades.

Our firm has a proven track record of success, having recovered over a billion in compensation on behalf of our clients. There are no upfront fees for our services, and we are not paid unless you get paid.

TSR Injury Law. Millions Recovered. Call (612) TSR-TIME for assistance.

Common Reasons for a Delay in Settling a Personal Injury Claim

personal injury claim settlement being delayedOne of the most common questions injury victims have is: How long will it take to recover compensation for my claim?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. It could be weeks, months or a year or more. However, while the duration of the legal process may be no one’s fault, sometimes there are delays because of the insurance company. The resolution of a case could also take longer because of how complex a claim is. This is often the case when multiple parties are involved or fault is contested.

Review some of the most common reasons for a delay in a personal injury claim. If you have any questions about the legal process, including how long it may take, you can always contact the experienced attorneys at TSR Injury Law. We have been helping personal injury victims in Minnesota for more than 20 years with a wide variety of claims.

Duration of Your Medical Treatment

Settlement negotiations generally do not begin until the victim has completed his or her medical treatment. When the victim has fully healed, or at least achieved the maximum recovery likely, his or her Bloomington personal injury attorney will be able to assess the full cost of past medical care. This is also the point when the attorney can determine the victim’s future treatment needs and factor those into the value of the claim.

Some injuries heal or stabilize faster than others. The duration of your medical treatment also depends on the severity of your injury and how you respond to treatment. There could be setbacks along the way, such as infections or treatments that simply do not work.

Disputes Over Liability

It should be noted that even when fault seems clear, insurance companies may try to dispute it. This is especially the case for accidents involving multiple parties or when liability is unclear to the police or witnesses at the scene.

Minnesota law allows injury victims’ settlements to be reduced according to their percentage of fault. That gives insurance companies extra incentive to try to pin at least some of the blame for the crash on you.

Sometimes it is necessary to bring in experts to help validate a case and this could take time. The experts need time to analyze the accident. Your attorney may also need to find and interview credible witnesses.

Severity of Your Injuries

The more severe your injuries, the more compensation your attorney is likely to seek. Insurance companies do not want to pay out a lot of compensation. Dragging out the timeline of an expensive claim may often be an attempt to get you or your attorney to give up or ask for less money.

Your Case Goes to Trial

While most personal injury cases settle out of court, sometimes the only way to obtain maximum compensation may be to file a lawsuit. Often, when faced with potential court time, an insurer may be motivated to make a better settlement offer. Your attorney may reach a settlement while preparing for trial or even during the trial. Insurance companies often want to avoid the additional time and expense of a trial, so they often choose to settle.

Unreasonable Delays Caused by the Insurance Company

Insurance companies know how to delay the processing of claims. For example, they may take a few days to process documents you submit to them. They may ask you to complete additional, unnecessary documentation. They may even make a lowball offer and take a while to respond to your counteroffer.

Why do insurance companies do this?

You have a limited time to file a lawsuit. Minnesota’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within those two years, you will probably lose the chance to do so. Insurance companies know this, so they often use delay tactics in order to use up the clock.

That is why it is important to hire an experienced attorney who is prepared to go to court if necessary. Throughout the legal process, your lawyer should be preparing like he or she may need to go to court. That way, he or she is not rushing to try to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.

Is There Any Way to Avoid Delays?

There are some steps you can take that may help speed up the process. However, there are no guarantees.

For example, going to the hospital right away and following all your doctor’s orders is extremely important. This helps to show your credibility and the severity of your injuries.

Saying very little or nothing at all to the insurance company could help you. Sometimes victims say things that hurt their claims without even realizing it. For example, they may say something to the insurance company that is later used against them as a reason to assign them fault for the accident. Insurance companies know how to mislead victims, which is why it is often best to let your attorney communicate with them on your behalf.

Essentially, if you avoid doing things that could hurt your claim, you might help prevent delays in the process. For example, if you post something on social media that makes it seem like your injuries are not very serious, your lawyer may need to spend more time gathering evidence to refute these claims.

Learn More About How Long a Case May Take to Resolve

The initial consultation with one of the licensed attorneys at TSR Injury Law is 100 percent free of charge. You do not have to hire our firm after this meeting.

If we find you have a case and you decide to work with us, there will be no upfront fees for our services. We are not paid unless our clients receive compensation. That means there is no risk in calling us to find out how we may be able to help you.

We welcome the chance to assist you. Call today to learn more: (612) TSR-TIME.

Does the DOT Require Post-Accident Drug Testing For Commercial Truck Drivers?

old truck driver in truck during the dayDriving while impaired is a reckless decision that others often pay the price for. If the impaired driver is operating a commercial truck, the risk of a dangerous crash occurring increases significantly.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truckers to get drug tested at certain times in an effort to prevent crashes due to impaired driving. These tests also help investigators to find out if a driver involved in a crash was under the influence. Below, learn more about post-accident drug testing for commercial trucks. You may be surprised to learn about situations where drug testing is not required.

If you were injured in a crash with a commercial truck, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages. Our Minneapolis truck accident lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your situation. Our firm has recovered more than $1 billion, including $1.7 million for a man who was run over by a semi-truck.

See what satisfied clients have said about our firm on our testimonials page.

When Do Truck Drivers Get Drug Tested?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires those with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to get tested for drugs and alcohol at various times during their employment, including:

  • Pre-employment testing before they begin work as a CDL driver: This is part of their background check
  • After certain types of truck accidents
  • At other times when requested and as part of randomized drug testing: This additional testing is done every quarter, and all employees have an equal chance of being selected for testing.
  • Anytime there is a reasonable suspicion the driver is under the influence or has been using drugs on or off the job
  • Return-to-duty testing, which is required after drivers tested positive, refused to take a test or otherwise violated the law
  • Follow-up testing, which is much the same as return-to-duty testing

Drivers do not have to be full-time to be subject to these requirements. Any part-time, intermittent, backup or international drivers are also subject to drug testing.

What is the Most Common Drug Test for Truck Drivers?

The most common drug test for CDL drivers is the five-panel urine test. In this test, the driver’s urine will be tested for:

  • THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana
  • Opiates (any opium or codeine derivatives, including morphine, heroin, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines, including MDMA and methamphetamines

What Drugs Do Truck Drivers Often Take?

Truck drivers often take cocaine or amphetamines to help them stay awake longer and maintain the focus required to safely operate their vehicles. They sometimes abuse medications used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as these medications help stimulate the mind and improve concentration.

It is hard for drivers to make their deadlines without staying on the road for many hours at a time, which makes it harder to get adequate sleep. This leads some drivers to turn to drugs the way many of us drink coffee in the morning to help us wake up.

Truck drivers often develop many chronic health conditions because they do not get enough sleep and because of the sedentary nature of their jobs. This often results in the use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs to help them cope.

When Are CDL Drivers Required to Get a Post-Accident Drug Test?

The FMCSA requires post-accident drug testing if the crash caused:

  • A fatality, whether a citation was issued to the truck driver or not
  • Bodily injury that requires immediate medical treatment away from the scene, but only if a citation was issued to the driver
  • Disabling damage to a vehicle that requires the vehicle to be towed, but only if a citation is issued to the truck driver

That means drug testing is not required after accidents that cause bodily injury when police fail to issue a citation.

It is important to note that even if the law does not require a drug or alcohol test, the driver’s employer might.

How Much Time Do Drivers Get to Do a Post-Crash Drug Test?

Under the law, employers are required to test drivers for drugs or alcohol as soon as is practical after the crash.

FMCSA rules state that an alcohol test should be done within two hours of the accident. However, sometimes the driver cannot make it in for testing within two hours. For instance, if the driver gets stuck at the scene while the crash is being investigated.

If the driver cannot get the test done within two hours, he or she must provide a written explanation. The driver’s employer must also write a note explaining why the deadline was missed and keep it on file.

Drug/controlled substances tests must be done within 32 hours of the accident.

What if the Driver Does Not Do the Test Within That Time?

If more than eight hours pass without an alcohol test, employers must stop attempting to do a test. The employer is likely to face fines for non-compliance with drug-testing rules. Missing the deadline may also trigger an audit.

If a drug test is not done within 32 hours, the driver’s employer faces fines and an audit. The reasons why the test was missed must also be documented.

What if the Driver Was Tested For Alcohol at the Crash Scene?

Even if the driver took a breathalyzer test at the scene, he or she is required to get an official test within the allotted time. This is because tests done by police officers at the scene of a commercial truck crash do not meet DOT regulations.

How Long Does It Take for the Results to Come Back?

Alcohol tests produce results almost immediately. Drug tests are going to take longer.

What Happens if the Driver Tests Positive in a DOT Drug Test?

He or she will be prohibited from driving until the Return-to-Duty process has been completed. This is a six-step process that concludes with a drug test.

The second step in the process, after removing the driver from safety-sensitive functions, is a referral to a substance abuse professional. Drivers must meet with this person or their career in the industry may be over. The next step is entrance into a drug and alcohol treatment program. Once this program has been completed, the substance abuse professional will do a follow-up evaluation. If the driver passes a return-to-duty drug test, he or she should be able to go back to work.

DOT requires six follow-up drug tests over a one-year period. These tests will not be announced.

What to Do if You Suspect a Truck Driver is Drunk or Impaired?

If you are involved in a truck crash and you suspect the driver is drunk, make sure you tell the police officer who comes to the scene. Tell him or her the reasons why you suspect alcohol or drugs may have been involved in the crash.

For example, one sign of an impaired driver may be an open trailer door, as drunk truck drivers may overlook simple safety precautions. If you smell alcohol on the driver’s breath, or he or she appears to be stumbling around, tell the police. You may have also noticed erratic driving before the crash, such as speeding, struggling to stay in a lane or tailgating you or another vehicle.

By informing the police about your suspicions, you help to ensure they will at least consider the possibility of the driver being drunk. They may be more likely to conduct a field sobriety test or ask the driver to blow into a breathalyzer, increasing the chances of a citation being issued. If a citation is issued, the driver may be required to undergo a drug or alcohol test by his or her employer.

Talking to an attorney is important after a truck crash. Trucking companies, their insurance companies and other at-fault parties will work hard to escape liability for a collision involving one of their drivers. You need an attorney who will be focused on your best interests to help level the playing field.

Call Today to Discuss Your Truck Crash

There is no risk in discussing your situation with one of our licensed attorneys. The consultation is free of charge, and you are not obligated to hire our firm if we determine you have a case.

We have helped many motor vehicle crash victims recover compensation, and we know what it takes to build a strong case. We have the resources, experience and legal knowledge to aggressively pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Review our results page to learn more about some of the results we have achieved.

Call today for answers to your legal questions. (612) TSR-TIME