When Your Personal Injury Settlement Requires a Non-Disclosure Agreement
A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a clause in a legal contract or a separate legal contract that signifies an agreement to keep a legal settlement secret and confidential. Personal injury
settlements often include NDAs, for various reasons. Defendants often want a settlement to be kept private because they worry that a settlement will make them look guilty. What if your personal injury settlement requires an NDA?
At a 2015 American Bar Association conference, attorneys Patrick Malone and Jon Bauer said in a presentation, “The confidentiality provisions that defense lawyers insist on often go well beyond keeping the amount and terms of the settlement secret; they also require the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer to keep silent about the facts underlying the case.“ The plaintiff’s attorneys may feel obligated to agree to include an NDA in a settlement contract, but general ethics rules discourage using these secrecy provisions.
Such demands for confidentiality can raise problems, such as the concealment of wrongful conduct from the public. When citizens are kept in the dark, they are unable to take legal steps to protect themselves from wrongful conduct. Let’s remember that the US justice system belongs to the American people, the taxpayers who are paying for courts and justice system employees. This means citizens should have the right to see every aspect of legal actions, including settlements established via the courts. Confidentiality causes problems for clients, attorneys, and the legal system.
Many observers of the business world object to the idea of NDAs. According to “Contracts of Silence,” an article published in the Columbia Journalism Review, “Once a quirk of the technology industry, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have proliferated across the business landscape, purportedly placing every secret, every item of misconduct out of public view.”
When your personal injury attorney negotiates your settlement, a demand for confidentiality is also a topic for negotiation. For example, when the defendant adds an NDA to the agreement late in the game, your and your attorney may decide to stipulate that your settlement should be increased in return for agreeing to the NDA.
At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to helping you with your accident claim.