“Should I sign a non-disclosure?”
Settling a personal injury claim outside of court can be a real advantage for someone who doesn’t want the amount or details of the claim becoming public record. Claims that are settled by trial can easily result in the entire record becoming viewable by the public, which then could encourage others with similar claims to come forward with their own legal action. Many times the details that establish the validity of the claim are the real issue for the negligent party, but the amount can be significant as well.
However, if the claimant avoids public record, any illegal or unethical activity can still occur. Even potential bad faith insurance company cases can be swept under the rug when a claimant accepts a settlement under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), allowing the company to continue using any specific illegal negotiation policy.
There are certain advantages and disadvantages that apply to all parties when non-disclosure is an agreed-upon component of a claim, including plaintiffs. Understanding these pros and cons is important for all involved parties.
Advantages of confidential settlement agreements
One potentially bad outcome for a plaintiff is the details of the claim being exposed in an open hearing. Many people don’t want their health conditions or personal experiences being a matter of public record.
In certain instances, such as when there is a news report of the event triggering the claim, Florida law will not allow published information as part of the agreement. However, agreeing to a settlement with an NDA can still accomplish other privacy priorities.
In addition, many claimants don’t want the amount of the settlement published, especially if it’s a sizeable sum. Unscrupulous actors are always on the lookout for potential victims, and many recipients of a substantial settlement could become just that in the wrong situation. Professional crooks can be very persuasive and deceptive.
In addition to privacy maintenance, agreeing to an NDA can also result in a much greater amount of compensation, as the respondent is asking for a favor from the claimant for the most part. Concessions amount to an opportunity for increased compensation demands from the plaintiff and their legal representatives, and more often than not, the NDA clause will encourage a significant financial enhancement from the respondent.
The party being sued is typically the one primarily wanting the NDA as a part of any settlement. Information is power when it can be validated and applied to victims who have been harmed by the same defendant or other bad actors. This is especially important for people who use their wealth as power to dominate or disregard their duty of care toward others.
Public personalities aren’t the only ones wanting to protect their wrongdoings from public knowledge. Product manufacturers, insurance companies and various types of corporations who are targeted for compensation because of liability issues often want a confidential settlement agreement, as well.
Disadvantages of a gag order in settlement agreement
One of the primary disadvantages of a gag order in a settlement agreement is that a violation of the clause, no matter how subtle or unintentional, could put the claimant in jeopardy of a lawsuit from the original respondent.
The clause is part of an enforceable contract that is typically with a very wealthy party who can afford to file recourse. This could be detrimental to the life of a private person who has agreed to keep quiet. Technicalities can matter. Non-disclosure means no discussion of any terms of the settlement, including dollar amounts.
There is also a public disadvantage of NDA agreements as well, which is the fact that the public may have a need to know the elements of the claim in order to ensure the behavior stops. This is especially true of lawsuits stemming from sexual attacks or abuse of any sort if the offender is left to offend again.
The importance of experienced legal counsel
It’s very important to retain legal representation that truly understands what an NDA agreement can mean for the client. In fact, the NDA itself should be discussed at length before signing on the bottom line.
You need an attorney who not only understands how to assess the actual value of remaining silent after the fact, but who can also protect their clients from subsequent violations of the agreement. This situation alone is enough to demand a significantly larger financial sum when the respondent wants the clause, even if it advantages the claimant as well.
Having the right Florida personal injury attorney matters
Liable parties who want a non-disclosure agreement always have a motive when asking for silence. Having the right attorney is vital for a successful outcome that doesn’t result in retaliation for any discussion of the events leading to the claim.
This applies even in a personal injury claim. Always get an aggressive attorney with a solid track record of results for their clients and ongoing support in case of a recurring claim by the respondent contractor.