A sudden, unexpected injury can send your life spinning suddenly off course into unexpected directions. You may experience painful medical treatments and procedures as well as the legal challenges of a personal injury claim to recover your losses if someone else’s carelessness or reckless actions caused the injury. Between the medical and legal processes involved in making a claim for compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, you may feel like you have little privacy left. But when do the details of an injury, its damages, and the amount of compensation you’re seeking become a matter of public record? Are personal injury settlements on the public record?
When Do the Details of an Injury Claim Become Public Record?
Fortunately, most injury claims never become public records because both parties settle the matter out of court through direct negotiations with the insurance company of the party at fault. Settlements are private and not a part of any public record. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, your case is far more likely to end in a settlement. To gain a settlement for injury damages, an attorney will do the following:
- Investigate all aspects of the injury to determine the liable party
- Document evidence of the act of negligence that caused the injury
- Prove liability by demonstrating that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent injury to others, they breached this duty by acting negligently, and that the breach of duty directly caused the injury
- Prove that you’ve suffered significant damages due to the injury
Damages in a personal injury claim include all consequences of the injury, including economic damages like past and future medical expenses, lost income, diminished future earning capacity due to disability, pain and suffering, and sometimes other damages like disfigurement or loss of enjoyment of life.
By carefully calculating a victim’s damages and making a compelling case for compensation to present in a demand package to an insurer, an attorney can maximize the chances of a settlement. The details of a settlement remain private and confidential. Often, the confidentiality of an out-of-court settlement makes settling the case an attractive proposition for defendants, especially if a court case could negatively impact their reputation or business.
Only if the case goes to trial does it become part of the public record. All court cases decided by a judge and jury are a matter of public record and open to viewing by anyone.
Injury Claims Decided in Court Are Part of the Public Record
Around 95% of personal injury claims are settled with out-of-court compensation agreements through direct negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider or through mediation or arbitration efforts to resolve disputes. Only when insurers wrongfully deny a valid claim for compensation or seriously undervalue it and offer only an unacceptably low amount in a settlement does the case proceed to court as long as the victim files a lawsuit petition within the state’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims—a two-year time limit in Texas.
When a case comes to court, all evidence and testimony as well as the eventual verdict and court award for compensation become matters of public record.
When deciding whether or not to pursue a claim for compensation in court, it’s important for the injury victim and the defendant in the case to consider the implications of these details becoming a matter of public record.