How Talking to the Defendant in a Personal Injury Case Can Backfire
Many lawyers tell their clients not to talk about their case, not with the police, not with neighbors, not with the media, not with the other party, and especially not with the defendant or the defendant’s attorneys. Finkelstein & Partners LLP, a reputed law firm, says anything you say to the defendant can be used against you, which in the worst case scenario, can cost you the entire claim.
But why is it that talking to the defendant can backfire? In the age of social media, this is a bigger problem than ever before. One of the most startling instances on record goes back to around 2014 when a Florida man, confident that he was on track to win a suit against his employer, posted something like this;
“We won the case against [the company]. They will now pay for our European vacation next summer. Suck it!”
That is a slight reworking of an actual Facebook post with names and tense changed for the sake of anonymity. Interestingly, it was a claim involving anonymity that caused the post to backfire badly against the plaintiff.
The post was seen by more than a thousand mostly underage people in this case. The plaintiff’s former employer claimed that a confidentiality agreement had been breached by the post, and the court agreed. As a result, the plaintiff had nearly $100,000 subtracted from their settlement.
How Talking to the Defendant Can Backfire
On the whole, there are many reasons not to talk to the other party. Most of these reasons also apply to talking to any party with an interest that is opposed to your own.
If there is a confidentiality agreement in place, clearly, talking about the case with almost anyone is a bad idea. But there are many reasons why discussing your case with the other party is very strongly advised against. When medical issues or children are involved, there will almost always be a reason to maintain confidentiality, even if there is not an explicit confidentiality agreement. Breaking such an agreement, either implicit or explicit, could cost you.
Placing Loved Ones in a Difficult Situation
If you were to talk with loved ones about your case they may be forced to testify against you. If you are truly in the right, this may not be a problem. But it could be. In most cases, spouses cannot be compelled to testify against their partners. But this kind of thing can happen. It is painful and should be avoided.
Creating New, Admissible Evidence
Lawyers often advise against talking to the police because the job of law enforcement is to find a reason to press charges. Likewise, talking to the defendant about the case for almost any reason has no benefits. The chances that you might give them information that could be used against you are greater than any other result.
What’s more, if you give the defendant information they don’t need, they could use it as a part of their defense. Your attorney would know the difference between information that is and is not useful to the other party. That’s why you should leave communications with the other party to them.
It’s Just Poor Form
Any adversarial court case is something like a poker game. Talking about what is in your hand is almost always a bad idea, and these are just the main reasons not to talk to the defendant.