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Are Personal Injury Settlements Public Record?

People settle most personal injury claims out of court. Cases that do reach a courtroom do so because the parties involved could not reach a fair settlement without involving the court. The process begins when someone makes a claim, but it does not end there. This is why you should work with a top-rated personal injury lawyer who has significant litigation experience. If you value keeping the details of a case and settlement confidential, going to court might not be the right choice.

Settlements

Insurance providers, defendants, and claimants usually prefer to settle personal injury claims out of court through a form of arbitration or mediation. Settlement allows for greater flexibility. It is often less expensive, less stressful, and less time consuming than the courtroom experience. Settling out of court means retaining greater control over all aspects of the case.

People don’t usually publicize the names and details of a civil case. No requirement is in place for the defendant to admit negligence or liability, which can be important for some individuals or companies. When settled out of court, the amount and details of a personal injury case are not public record.

Reaching a settlement with an insurance provider often takes less than ten months and can save money for all parties involved in the claim. A lawyer can use his or her previous experience litigating personal injury cases to determine whether it is likely your case will reach a favorable ruling in court. Although a lawyer cannot guarantee any specific result for a case – a lawyer can only make informed guesses using the available evidence.

Whether or not a case is a part of the public record is also incredibly important to people who might have concerns about revealing the details of their injury to complete strangers. Typically, when a personal injury claim settles out of court, the amount and particulars of the case aren’t public record. Exceptions always exists. However, it is more difficult to attain information regarding a settlement.

Court Rulings

When a court ruling is public, everything submitted to a court or a jury in reaching that ruling is public. This includes all witness testimonies, the details of the victim’s injury, the arguments used by both sides, and the verdict amount for the case. For personal injury cases that actually go to trial, the reason that they go to trial is because one side is being unreasonable, or one side wants to make a public statement about what occurred. Attempting to settle a case out of court is no guarantee a case will stay out of court.

Litigation can take years. After a judge makes a ruling, either party can appeal the decision, which brings the case to another courtroom and requires another hearing. The appeals process can take years to complete because each appeal hearing must determine whether the judge properly applied the law, followed proper procedure or if the court made some other error in the previous trial. If a case results in a ruling against you, it may feel like wasted time and dollars pursuing unreceived compensation.

Bottom Line

If you suffered an injury in an accident and are considering seeking compensation for your injuries through a personal injury claim, speak with a personal injury lawyer about all the possible paths your claim can take. Regardless of the situation, know that no guarantees exist. Despite a claimant’s personal preference, any attempt at settlement has the potential to find its way to a courtroom. A lawyer will better understand the strength of a case and the path forward. As a claimant, understand the outcome you seek before meeting with an attorney and thoroughly explain the situation to them to ensure proper council.