What Are You Agreeing To In An Injury Settlement?
Settling a personal injury claim or lawsuit means signing potentially many documents. You may wonder what you're even going to agree to if you sign a settlement. If you have questions about the implications of a settlement, you may want to show the document to a personal injury lawyer before you sign. Personal injury attorneys usually look for these three features in a settlement.
Unsurprisingly, compensation is the centerpiece of any injury settlement. You have suffered injuries that led to economic, medical, and financial losses. The defendant or their insurer is offering to compensate you for those damages.
Personal injury attorneys always want to be sure that the compensation will cover their clients for as long as they might suffer. If there are complications that will require medical care for the rest of your life, the money needs to be there in the compensation package. Never accept a settlement until you know what the long-term prospects of your physical recovery are going to be.
Also, the compensation package should make sense relative to the level of negligence or malice involved in the case. If the owner of a bar wants to settle an injury case involving a bouncer who beat up a patron for nothing more than the medical bills, that offer may be too light. Do not let defendants off easy just to cover your medical expenses.
Loss of Right to Sue
The acceptance of an injury settlement terminates the claimant's right to sue. After all, this is what the defendant gets out of settling early. They get to avoid going to court and potentially seeing a jury award a huge judgment.
As long as you and your personal injury lawyer are comfortable with the level of compensation, this is no big deal. However, claimants should be aware that they can't go back to the well for more money once they settle. Make sure you've documented all of your compensable damages before you agree to anything.
Most injury settlements don't include confidentiality agreements. There are, however, some defendants that would prefer that claimants not publicize their cases. Particularly, defendants and insurers often don't want to attract attention if they agree to large totals for damages. Also, some defendants may not like the public scrutiny of settling cases.
There isn't anything wrong with a confidentiality clause in a settlement. The defense, though, should offer some additional compensation for your agreement to keep the details confidential. For more information, contact a firm like Willis Spangler Starling.