Florida’s attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges in American judicial history. The privilege protects and preserves the confidentiality of communications between attorneys and their clients. The rule provides clients with the right to refuse to divulge and prevent another person from disclosing confidential communications between the client and attorney. Although there are significant policy justifications for the privilege, at its foundation, the rule is designed to promote and encourage the free and open sharing of information between clients and their attorneys. This allows clients to provide their attorneys with accurate and complete information, allowing them to provide more precise and well-reasoned advice and representation.
The attorney-client privilege is an evidentiary rule, as it prevents lawyers from testifying about their clients’ statements. In addition to the privilege, attorneys owe their clients a duty of confidentiality. This prevents attorneys from discussing information related to their clients’ cases in any other context. They must protect all information regarding their client’s case, regardless of the information’s origin. Both of these protections have certain exceptions that may be relevant if a client dies, in cases where the client is actively engaged in fraud, or if the disclosure is necessary to prevent certain death or substantial harm.
Throughout history, courts have heard and addressed various claims involving attorney-client privilege. One recent Florida decision in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Assn., held that the attorney-client privilege protects a law firm’s referral of a client to a treating physician. In that case, a woman fell and suffered injuries in a YMCA parking lot. During pretrial proceedings, the defendants asked her to disclose whether her attorney referred her to her treating doctors. The trial court compelled her to produce the information; however, on appeal, the Florida Supreme Court held that attorney-client privilege protects a party from disclosing information of that nature.
More recently, a defendant in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit, filed a petition arguing that it should not be compelled to disclose the amount of money their law firm paid to retain trial experts over the previous three years. The court reasoned that although they denied a defendant’s relief in similar cases, courts have not applied in an even-handed manner. They denied the motion to respect the “truth-seeking function and fairness” of a trial. However, they certified a specific question regarding whether the Worley decision applies to precluding a defense law firm that is not a party to the litigation from disclosing its financial relationship with experts that it retains for litigation, including experts retained to perform compulsory medical examinations.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Medical Malpractice Accident?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of the negligence of a medical provider or healthcare worker, you should contact the Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling cases related to car accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, and other similar matters. Our attorneys pride themselves on providing clients with dedicated, diligent, and ethical representation. Through our representation, our clients have recovered substantial amounts of compensation for their injuries and damages. Contact our office at 877-448-8585, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.