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Are Personal Injury Settlements Public Record?

September 30, 2022

When a person sustains an injury caused by the negligence of another individual or entity, they absolutely deserve to recover compensation for their losses. However, when a settlement is made, does that settlement become part of the public record? This is important to understand, particularly when it comes to protecting your privacy and preventing other individuals know that you have stayed a sizable settlement as a result of your injury claim.

Are Personal Injury Settlements Public Record?

Insurance Settlements Versus Personal Injury Trials

When discussing public records and personal injury settlements, it’s important to understand the difference between a settlement and a personal injury verdict.

Settlements are what happens when a claim is settled between an injury victim and an insurance carrier or other private entity. When this occurs, it means that the case did not go to the courtroom and has typically not made it in front of a jury. When a case is settled between an injury victim and insurance carriers or with another entity, this means that it is not going to be part of the public record. All records related to the settlement will be sealed, and no other individuals aside from those involved in the case will be able to see the results of the settlement.

The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled between injury victims and insurance carriers, but there are times when cases do you have to go to trial. If the insurance carrier or at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement, personal injury victims will have to file a personal injury lawsuit, which puts the case into the civil court system. As soon as the lawsuit gets filed, these matters start to become part of the public record.

During the course of the civil lawsuit process, negotiations may still continue with the parties involved, and if the case is settled before a jury trial becomes necessary, the matter will still be private and not part of public record. There will be a record that a lawsuit was filed but that it was settled before a trial became necessary.

If the case goes to a jury and a jury rules one way or another, their ruling will become part of the public record. If a plaintiff is awarded damages, the total amount of damages will also be made public.

What Information is Part of the Public Record?

Various types of information will be made public throughout the course of a personal injury lawsuit. The public will have access to many details pertaining to the case, particularly as they come out in court and after the case is finished. This includes:

  • The names of the parties involved
  • The facts related to the case
  • Any statements and testimony from parties involved
  • Lists of evidence presented
  • Details related to the injuries
  • Personal information introduced in discovery and at trial
  • Arguments presented by both sides
  • The final verdict in the case
  • The total amount of compensation awarded, if any

To recap, information related to a personal injury trial by jury will almost always become part of the public record, while information related to a private settlement will remain confidential. Speak to an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer if you have questions about your personal injury claim in Colorado.