Jeffrey L. Oster, who represents clients in trucking and motor vehicle liability matters, was quoted in Transport Topics‘ recent article “Strategies Exist to Protect Internal Safety Data From Plaintiffs’ Attorneys, Experts Say”. The article, which appears both online and in the publication’s April 26 issue, discussed the effect of personal injury attorneys’ increasing attempts to gain access to internal post-accident analysis, which, if produced during the course of litigation, could negatively impact the outcome of a case.
Jeffrey explained that there are ways to conduct internal analyses in a manner which would keep the disclosure of certain post-accident information confidential. One way to do that is for the insurance carrier’s staff attorney, or a retained outside attorney, to conduct the internal investigation.
“There are several reasons for that, but perhaps the most important is you have the benefit of attorney-client privilege,” said Jeffrey, noting that such treatment could prove valuable to a fleet’s defense down the road.
“Have the attorney talk with the driver and the safety supervisor to get details on an incident while it’s fresh in the driver’s mind,” Jeffrey said. “That’s not getting out to opposing counsel,” Jeffrey said. “A plaintiff attorney is going to have an uphill battle in court if he wants to try and pierce the attorney-client privilege. It’s not going to happen.”
Further, any documents the attorney creates are generally protected from disclosure under the attorney work product doctrine, Jeffrey added. “The attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine are two force fields that are nearly impossible for a plaintiff attorney to breach,” Jeffrey said.
The investment in legal representation can pay dividends, even for smaller carriers, he noted. “Think about the cost of hiring an attorney versus the cost of a multimillion dollar jury verdict,” he said.
To read the full article, please click here.