When someone sustains an injury in any type of personal injury case, be it a car accident, a truck accident, or after using a defective product, they deserve to recover fair compensation for their losses. After injured victims reach agreements with defendants and their insurance companies, what happens to those cases? Are lawsuit settlements public records?
Most personal injury cases end in settlements. In fact, only about 5% of personal injury cases make it to trial. What happens to those cases that are settled out of court? Do they become part of the public record? At Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, our attorneys can help you understand the merits and downsides of public records when it comes to personal injury settlements or awards.
Are Lawsuit Settlements Public Records?
Personal injury verdicts in Louisiana and Texas often make major headlines. When juries award tens or hundreds of millions of dollars as compensation, everyone will certainly be interested in the details. One such example is a tragic wrongful death case that our injury lawyers handled, recovering the largest personal injury verdict in Louisiana history — $409 million. On the flip side, we rarely hear much about personal injury settlements.
One reason we don’t hear much about personal injury settlements is that they are kept private, and the involved parties enter into nondisclosure agreements. A confidentiality agreement is usually part of most settlement terms. Unless a party petitions the court to unseal the settlement, all parties involved in the case are bound by the nondisclosure agreement.
So, personal injury settlements aren’t available to the public. However, if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit after unsuccessful negotiations, the results of the case will be public record.
Should You Settle Outside Court or Go to Trial?
When seeking compensation for injuries, the most important things for most victims are justice and maximum compensation. Still, many other factors influence the trajectory of personal injury cases, including whether the case details and settlement amounts will be made public. It is understandable that injured victims don’t want to be in the headlines after experiencing a traumatic event that may have resulted in catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord damage, burn injuries, or traumatic brain injuries.
When you settle your injury claim outside the courtroom, you benefit by keeping your case details private. With no documented arguments, testimonies, or settlements published on government websites or blogs, no details of your case enter the public realm. For many injured victims, keeping the details of their cases private is of utmost importance.
If you decide to take your case to court, the details will be made public for anyone interested. Personal injury settlements often result in lower compensation than court verdicts, which also involve higher costs. Victims who wish to keep their details private may not be able to recover as much compensation as those who file injury lawsuits and have the details of the case in the public domain.
It’s also important to note that out-of-court negotiations are resolved much more quickly than court cases, which sometimes take years to complete.
Keeping Your Settlement Private: Contact Us Today
When seeking compensation for injuries and losses after an auto accident, you may wish to settle your case privately outside court. Such settlements won’t disclose the details of your case that you don’t feel comfortable putting out there. You may also decide to file a lawsuit if out-of-court negotiations don’t work out.
At Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, our Louisiana personal injury lawyers can handle private negotiations with the defendant and their insurance company on your behalf. We are also ready to file an auto accident lawsuit if necessary. To discuss settling your injury case, call us at (318) 221-1508 or fill out our online contact form to get started.
- Personal Injury Settlement Amounts Examples (2023 Guide). Forbes Advisor. Accessed August 14, 2023.