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Why Are Some Personal Injury Settlements Confidential Or Private?

confidential settlementAlthough they are somewhat common in many forms of litigation - including car accidents and other types of personal injury claims - confidential settlements can be controversial in the eyes of some. There are a number of reasons that a settlement may include a confidentiality clause, and ultimately the decision of whether to agree to confidentiality is up to the parties involved in the dispute. 

How Does A Confidential Settlement Agreement Work?

With regards to personal injury claims, the most common type of a situation which may lead to a confidential settlement agreement is when one of the defendants in the case is a corporation. Lawsuits reflect poorly on companies' public image and can have a negative impact on the company's reputation among the public, particularly when a lawsuit relates to negative behavior or actions that resulted in serious injury or death.

One of the main motivations for including a confidentiality clause is to prevent evidence — such as witnesses or documents — from becoming accessible to the public or to potential future plaintiffs. 

For example, if a truck driver causes a serious crash while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was on the job at the time of the collision, the company which employed the driver will likely not want the public to be aware of the incident. If news about this hypothetical crash were to get out, it could influence other companies' interests in working with that business or have other ramifications that affect the company's bottom line. 

To this end, the company may offer to pay a fair settlement to compensate the injured victim for their injuries and other damages if the victim agrees to a confidentiality clause which bars the plaintiff and their attorneys from publicly discussing the facts of the case or the resolution terms.

How Our Injury Attorneys Negotiate Confidentiality Clauses

At Davis Law Group, we understand that in some cases, it may make sense for a client to agree to a confidentiality clause as part of the settlement terms. The most important thing to understand is that these decisions are always made at the direction of the client, and our attorneys ultimately can only make recommendations to clients about what we feel is fair or in the client's best interests. 

Sometimes, a client may simply wish for the matter to be put entirely behind them and have no interest in discussing the matter further, so a confidentiality clause is essentially a moot point anyway. Other situations involve clients who want to see their tragedy lead to real change, in which case it's less likely that the client would be interested in agreeing to a confidentiality clause. 

Either way, we often use a confidentiality clause as a bargaining chip to achieve an even greater outcome for our clients. If an insurance company or corporation requests that our client agree to a confidentiality clause, we demand that they increase their settlement offer. Otherwise, we will not agree to confidentiality.

Contact A Personal Injury Attorney To Learn More About Your Rights

Most high-level car accident attorneys consider confidentiality clauses in resolution agreements to be a bad idea. However, when these clauses become necessary, it's important that the plaintiff's attorney have them written as carefully as possible to minimize any future risks.

If you are pursuing an insurance claim and the insurance company is requesting that you sign a confidentiality agreement as part of your settlement terms, it may be a good idea to consult with the personal injury lawyers at Davis Law Group in Seattle. Our legal team can help you better understand your legal rights and options, as well as whether it may be worth hiring an attorney for your case. 

Call (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to request a free legal consultation with our staff today.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.