Are Personal Injury Settlements Public Record? 

Are Personal Injury Settlements Public Record?  1


After a long battle over settlement demands, you may be wondering if all of the personal details of your personal injury claim are publicly available. That entirely depends on whether you settled inside the court with the help of a judge or jury, or outside the court system.

This is the sort of query that we have dealt with as personal injury lawyers at Agruss Law Firm where clients are often concerned to know what becomes of their personal injury settlement or award information.

Here is some valuable information that can help you discover whether your case details are publicly recorded. 

What Happens If I Settle In Court?

If you decided to initiate a lawsuit and recruited the help of a judge and jury to decide on how much you deserve in settlement money, then it is likely that your case is in the public record. Not all of the details of the case may be in the public record, and in some cases, documents won’t be exposed to the public. For example, if harm can come from your privacy being displayed to the public and your safety outweighs public interest, then you will likely have some of this information omitted.

Every state has slightly different rules regarding court documents, although, in general, litigation allows court records to be inspected by the public. 

Some information that may be posted in the public record includes the nature of your injuries and how you were wounded. For example, the records may mention that you were in a car accident, a dog bite, or suffered a slip and fall injury.

The court records may also mention who was involved and which parties were held liable. In your settlement case, the defendant’s name may also be placed alongside yours. How much was awarded in settlement money may or may not be included, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

Lawsuits are beneficial because the settlement may be greater if you experienced substantial damages due to another’s negligence. The court deals out awards based on how much the other party is at fault, then enforces their judgment. However, the court ruling is public knowledge once a judgment has been ruled. 

What If I Resolve A Settlement Outside Of Court?

Settlements dealt with outside of court are resolved differently without the judge or jury making a decision. Because they don’t occur in court, they are not part of the public record.

Additionally, the personal details of what happens in the case are also not publicized unless you decide to reach out to a news station about it.

Another benefit of a settlement that doesn’t reach a trial is that these settlements are reached more quickly without a judgment. The court system is more complex, requires many people to come to a verdict, and a lengthier investigation is needed. 

What Do I Do If My Personal Injury Settlement Is Public Record And It’s Harming Me? 

If a disclosed fact is private, such as personal details that shouldn’t be public knowledge, you can make a legal claim against the disclosure of public facts. For example, your financial status, sexual orientation, and medical history are private facts that shouldn’t be included in public disclosure.

Additionally, if the public record provides offensive or harmful information in a way that can backfire on you if the public knows, then it would be irresponsible for these private facts to be made public. You could make a case against this exposed information and create a legal claim stating that the disclosed facts were not a legitimate public concern and should have been kept private. 

Settlements Are Countable Assets

Even if a settlement is not public knowledge, it may still be government knowledge. Because your settlement is a large lump sum of money, this information may not be private to government institutions.

Once you receive a large settlement for damages that are both economic and non-economic in nature, this can play an impact on Medicaid eligibility and other benefits. You will have to report how much you received when applying for government aid. 

Should I Go To Trial Or Settle Outside Of Court?

If you haven’t made a decision on where to take your claim yet, you can work with an experienced attorney to help direct you on what would work best in your situation. If you are filing a claim against an amiable party, you should seek a settlement outside of court. However, if the other party won’t budge, you may need the help of a judge to make a decision – hopefully in your favor.

Source: Agruss Law Firm


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