Don’t want the public to know about your case? No problem. Learn how settlement confidentiality works.
Diane Vasilion, 52, was left with brain damage and partial paralysis after a 1994 car accident involving multiple vehicles. In 2000, she was awarded $35 million, then the largest amount in Illinois state history.
Said nicely, many friends and long-lost family members tend to suddenly come out of the woodwork when they hear about this. And unfortunately, sometimes scammers approach people with large financial awards. Other relatives might get jealous and angry, thinking the award was excessive.
But, you can prevent all this with a “settlement confidentiality agreement.” And when you have that signed, the only information that goes public is you and the defendant agreed to a “cash payout.” No one learns the amount of the payout, or the factors causing you and the defendant to agree to the settlement.
Why else might you want a settlement confidentiality clause?
Besides privacy regarding the payout amount and details of the personal injury claim, here are some others:
• Plaintiffs often like confidentiality, too. You may be able to use confidentiality as a bargaining chip to increase the value of your claim.
• You don’t want the public to know about something private, like a medical condition.
• You may have been fired from a job or harassed for personal reasons. Confidentiality keeps these things private so you don’t have worry about damage to your reputation.
• You’re concerned others might view your case, and you personally, as “ridiculous” or “absurd” (it isn’t), and you want to protect your reputation.
Why do defendants want settlement confidentiality?
Many times, the defending party is interested in settlement confidentiality (although they may not think of it).
Here’s why they might have that interest:
• They don’t want damage to their personal or business reputation.
• They don’t want the public to know the details of their negligent behavior.
• Sometimes, when people see someone get successfully sued, they try their luck and attempt to sue the entity for the same or other reasons in “me too” lawsuits.
• A plaintiff requesting confidentiality can also help them settle litigation when there’s multiple defendants.
Why would you not want settlement confidentiality?
From the plaintiff’s side, your side, there aren’t too many reasons you wouldn’t want settlement confidentiality.
Some choose not to have settlement confidentiality because they are angry with what has happened to them and the defendant’s actions. They want the public to know the real story.
You can do things either way.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. You need to understand the potential ramifications of keeping your personal injury settlement confidential or letting it go public.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.