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Is a Personal Injury Settlement Public Record?

Is a personal injury settlement public record? This is an important question, especially for owners of small businesses. Your reputation and the reputation of your business could be on the line. Read on to find out more.

What Is a Settlement?

In a settlement, an injured party agrees to receive monetary compensation from the insurance company covering the negligent party. By accepting the compensation, the injured party agrees to give up their right to pursue legal action against the defendant. This is what is known as a settlement.

A settlement releases the defendant and the insurance company from legal action stemming from the incident in question. If you make a settlement prior to litigation it will remain private and will not enter the public record.

On the other hand, if you file a lawsuit and receive compensation via verdict or judgment, that will become public record. Moreover, settlement offers made by the defendants after a lawsuit must satisfy the requirements as outlined in Florida Statute 768.79.

Therefore, prior to filing a lawsuit in Florida, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney. Moreover, this attorney needs to have litigation experience. Only an attorney with this type of experience will be able to prepare and inform injury victims on what to expect when they are filing a lawsuit.

Should I Settle or Go to Trial?

Commonly, once an injury victim completes all medical treatment, the attorney will begin to compile documents that will serve as evidence to prove the client’s damages. Some of the items will be medical records and medical bills for the injuries sustained in the accident. Other documents will be proof of lost wages and pictures of bodily injuries. The attorney will also collect pictures of property damage. In addition, he or she will want a copy of the police report related to the incident as well as witness statements (if applicable).

Then the attorney will create a demand letter. This letter will be accompanied by supporting documents and the attorney will submit it to the defendant’s insurance company. The demand letter will thoroughly summarize the incident, the events surrounding the incident, and their insured’s negligence. The demand letter for settlement will also provide a detailed outline of the client’s damages.

Once the insurance company has reviewed the demand, it usually takes about 30 to 45 days before they make an initial settlement offer. If the attorney feels the insurance company has undervalued a client’s case, he or she will advise the client. Then the attorney will begin to negotiate on the client’s behalf. If your attorney cannot reach an agreement, he or she will usually recommend that you file a lawsuit.


What Happens When You Go to Trial

No two personal injuries are the same, and not every case should go to trial. An experienced Gainesville personal injury attorney will use a multitude of data sets to assess the reasonableness of a settlement offer. Then the attorney will make an educated recommendation on whether or not a lawsuit is in their client’s best interest.

For example, an attorney will evaluate the severity of injuries. Also, the attorney will assess past and future wage losses, past and future medical expenses, and whether or not the client contributed to the accident based on Florida’s comparative negligence standard. If you and your attorney determine that you must file a lawsuit, your attorney will work diligently to seek the compensation you deserve.

Getting a Settlement out of Court

Some of the benefits of settling out of court are that it will take less time than going through the litigation process. Also, you will know what your compensation will be, and the settlement will be private. In other words, the settlement will not become public record.

Your attorney can predict the outcome of your lawsuit but he or she cannot guarantee the outcome. Also, when a lawsuit is filed the plaintiff must participate in the discovery process. This will require you to answer questions that you may feel are personal or irrelevant.

However, as we mentioned previously, a multitude of data goes into evaluating the reasonableness of a settlement offer. Sometimes you must file a lawsuit in order to make the insurance company play fair. So if you have been injured in an accident we encourage you to contact Abercombie, P.A., personal injury attorney in Gainesville. Discuss with them the options that are available to you.