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Should You Tell Your Lawyer about the Skeleton in Your Closet

Apr 11, 2015 | Personal Injury FAQs

You have suffered serious injuries in a car accident and you want to invoke a personal injury lawsuit to claim compensation. Do you tell everything to your lawyer about what has happened in your past, especially a skeleton in your closet?

Possible Skeleton in Your Closet

Most people may have something in their past that they are not proud of or something they did wrong. A skeleton in your closet could be:

  • A prior arrest
  • A DUI conviction
  • Involved in prior lawsuit
  • Bankruptcy proceeding you had recently
  • Foreclosure on your home
  • Earned income but did not file tax returns in a particular year

Any of these things or some of these put together can be devastating for you case, and more importantly, they can destroy your credibility.

What happens When You Fail to Reveal Skeleton in Your Closet

Liability Verdict

Always trust your lawyer with past convictions to avoid last minute surprises

Now, when you fail to tell your attorney any of these things, he can be sandbagged during the course of your deposition, which is a pretrial question and answer session held under oath. In this session, you will be asked many questions by the defense, who will want to know different things about you.

The will want to know not only how the incident happened, but also a lot of background information about you. If you do not tell the defense what is asked or if you are not straight with them, the defense will corner you on these items at trial.

For instance, the defense asks whether you have ever been convicted of DUI, and you say no during deposition. At trial, defense will ask you this same question and when you say no, they will confront you with evidence about your being arrested and convicted of DUI, a year ago. Now, actually, your being convicted of DUI previously has nothing to do with your present case. However, you would have destroyed your credibility, when the defense presents evidence that you were lying about your DUI conviction.

A bankruptcy proceeding that you have undergone is another skeleton in your closet that can be even more devastating, and could get your case thrown out. In New York if you have declared bankruptcy recently, you are prevented from initiating a lawsuit for your injuries. You need to obtain special permission from the bankruptcy court to file a case.

Preventing the Destruction of Your Case

Now if you do not tell your attorney about the bankruptcy matter and your attorney does not ask you about it, and you go ahead and press forward with a personal injury case you are setting yourself up for some serious pain and frustration, This is because the defense will most likely ask you during the deposition if you have declared bankruptcy sometime in your past and certainly if you have recently. If you say yes, your attorney will be flabbergasted and furious with you.

Therefore, you must tell your attorney about any skeleton in your closet beforehand. This way your attorney can deal with such information intelligently without getting sandbagged by the defense at the deposition or trial.