In this video, attorney Ben Schwartz answers three viewer questions. Vicky in Wilmington Delaware asked, “My father crashed our car. His insurance company is offering me money to settle. Am I supposed to be suing him?” Karen in Maryland asked, “Is it against the law to secretly record a conversation?” And finally, Shelly in Dover, Delaware asked, “Do criminal defense attorneys ask their clients if they did it?
Hey, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to do a triple header of a video. I have three viewer questions that folks have contacted me and said, can you do this in a video? So let me read them off to you. The first question is coming from Vicki in Wilmington, Delaware she said, essentially my father crashed our car. His insurance company is offering me money to settle my claim. Am I supposed to be suing him or something?
So basically Vicki, if you are a passenger in your father’s car, your father causes the collision, your father does something wrong to cause the collision and you are injured, you have the right to sue your father. I realize it’s your father, but you still have the right to sue your father for negligently causing the crash that resulted in your injuries.
If his insurance company is coming to you saying, well how about if we offer you some money to settle up. What his insurance company is trying to do is secure your signature on a release, releasing him from any liability. That would be an indication that it is a good time to go to a lawyer and get a free consultation about what your rights are.
To me, just on the basis of a very short question and what I can tell you in a video, it sounds like you may have something that needs to be further investigated to determine if you have a claim that has significant value. If you have received an offer from an insurance company to pay you money, then the next question is, what are they asking you to give up in return for that money? Are you giving up a right to make a claim that would be worth a whole lot more than what they are offering you?
That is my concern anytime someone contacts me and says an insurance company offered me money. My concern is that what you may be entitled to may be significantly more than what the insurance company is offering. In your case where your own father caused the crash, you may have the right to sue your father. It may not be something that you really want to do. That may be a claim that can be settled before you ever have to file a lawsuit, but you won’t know if you don’t go to an attorney. So, I would say, get a free consultation with an attorney to learn your legal rights and to find out what the value of that claim may actually be before you settle before you take a penny from the insurance company.
The second question is from Karen in the state of Maryland, she said, is it against the law to secretly record a conversation? This is another question that if you are asking me this question, this is not exactly the best format to answer the question in. My direct answer would be, that you need to talk to an attorney in your jurisdiction who knows about the law as it pertains to federal wiretap statutes as it pertains to recording conversations surreptitiously or secretly.
Essentially if you are going to record a phone conversation without the other party knowing it, then that may implicate wiretap statutes and you don’t want to tangle with federal wiretap statutes. If you are in person, live and in-person, not over the internet, not over the phone line, not on zoom, and you are going to secretly record a conversation with someone, it depends on what state you are in as to whether or not you can record the conversation. In the state of Delaware as far as I’m aware, there is no state law that prohibits you from secretly recording someone else that you are in person with, that you are live and in-person with.
However, in other states like the state of Maryland, you would not be able to do that. I think it’s illegal in the state of Maryland to secretly record someone, so it depends on the jurisdiction where you are located. It depends on the jurisdiction where you are planning to do this recording. Speak to an attorney in that jurisdiction to find out the limitations on what you can legally do before you do it.
Our third question today is from Shelly in Dover, Delaware. Do criminal defense attorneys ask their clients if they did it? That is a great question, Shelly. It is something that I have been asked over the years on numerous occasions and the answer is it depends on the criminal defense attorney.
I know some criminal defense attorneys that ask every single client to give them a complete story from start to finish because they believe that by knowing all of the facts there will be no surprises and that’s how they can best help their clients. I know some attorneys that never ask their clients if they did it at all. I know attorneys who don’t want to know if their client did it because the attorney feels that if they knew their client did it, it would be harder for them to fight for their client. Personally, if I handle a criminal defense case, I tell my client that they may tell me their side of the story if they wish. If they feel comfortable doing it, it is covered by the attorney-client privilege.
So, you can do it and I won’t share that information with anyone. However, you know that once you tell me something, I will not put you on the witness stand to say something else. So, if you tell me your story then we get the witness interviews and the police report and you want to change your story, I am not going to put you on the witness stand and let you change your story. I would consider that to be unethical.
So, to answer your question, some do, and some don’t, and some leave it up to the client whether the client wants to tell them and that’s the way I do that. The middle ground, I think is the best way to do it. Those are three really good questions. Folks if you have a question for me, send me an email.
Thanks for watching!
Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what you think about having the three viewer questions in one video. We love hearing from you!