What Hillary Clinton’s Pneumonia Teaches Us

 

Now wait just a minute, I am not going to talk politics. I am going to talk about disclosure and hindsight. Whatever your opinion on Hillary Clinton, most people think it was a mistake for her not to have disclosed that she was suffering with pneumonia. Day in and day out, we counsel our clients on disclosure and here are some thoughts on the issue: 

  1. What you think is important is not what everyone else thinks is important. HRC said she did not disclose the pneumonia because she did not think it was a big deal. But, she is not the decider of what is a big deal in an election. That is the voters’ job. The same is true of litigation: the ultimate decider is the jury. So we tell our clients that everything needs to be viewed through the eyes of jurors.
  1. Non-disclosure almost always does more harm than disclosure. Because some hubbub had already been made about her health, HRC probably thought it would be better keep her pneumonia diagnosis to herself and her camp, take some antibiotics, solider on and avoid providing any fodder to Trump, the media, etc.   This is not an unreasonable position on its face. The problem comes when the information comes out anyway. With HRC, her stumble or collapse (depending upon your political affiliation) outed her illness. As a result, the focus is now two-fold: her health and her transparency. The same is true in injury litigation. Let’s say you have a prior back injury that you think is unrelated to the current back injury you received in a recent tractor-trailer accident and so you decide not to tell your lawyer or the other side about it when they ask you under oath. Let me be clear: this is a horrible plan. The other side is going to have full access to your medical and pharmacy records and the power of a subpoena. Defense lawyers get paid a lot of money by the hour to find things that hurt your case. A good defense lawyer will leave no stone unturned and when they find it you, just like HRC, will have two problems: the old injury is now known and your non-disclosure has now also created a credibility or transparency issue for the jury. Recall point 1; the jury gets to decide what is important and if you win.
  1. Disclosure when done correctly can actually inoculate you and win you points. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 but consider this: What if HRC had come out and said she had been diagnosed with pneumonia, she had been given antibiotics, was assured by her doctor that she would make a full and quick recovery, and she was not going to let it keep her from fighting for the American people?   That sounds so much better than playing defense after stumbling/collapsing with no known explanation.   The same is true in injury litigation. Instead of hiding the prior back injury, disclose it. Then explain, if true, you have not had any treatment for it in years, you have not had any symptoms or trouble, it had not kept you from your job or your leisure activities and leave it at that.   Under those circumstances, most defense lawyers cannot and will not try to make hay about it.

At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers counsel folks everyday on how to best proceed in injury litigation. It is our job to shepherd you through the process as successfully as possible. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and would like to know if you may have a case, just give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free). We handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.