Signing on to a non-disclosure policy (also known as a confidentiality agreement) when taking part in a civil personal injury lawsuit may seem like a simple task. The purpose of the agreement is to allow two or more parties to the suit to agree that information material to the proceedings will remain confidential. Because these agreements are signed on a fairly regular basis, many parties to a suit will sign such an agreement without much thought.
Doing so can turn out to be a very serious mistake though...
This is not to suggest that confidentiality agreements are a bad thing. Often, these agreements protect the reputation of people by preventing sensitive and personal information from being revealed. Trade secrets can also be kept from public release preventing any damage to a business in the market.
However, one does have to think very clearly and deliberately prior to signing a confidentiality agreement related to a personal injury lawsuit. There are those instances where signing a confidentiality agreement can lead to serious problems.
For example, a plaintiff may have been seriously injured due to a very extreme act of negligence. Since the defendant wishes to avoid a public trial, a settlement is offered. As part of the settlement, the plaintiff is not to ever publicly discuss the case. Upon agreeing to such terms, a great many actions are barred.
Someone who may wish to write a book about his or her experiences or entertain other media offers to the rights to the story would not be able to for example.
After all, a confidentiality clause has been put in place and this means not dissemination of material related to the case is allowed at all. No amount of appealing on the part of an injury law attorney may be able to sway the other party from changing its mind once the agreement has been signed.
Not everyone may be motivated by financial circumstances.
In some cases, the injured party may wish to reveal to the public the particulars of the situation so as to warn people of the dangers they might be facing. They are not able to do this when a confidentiality agreement has been signed. In essence, only one party benefits from the agreement. If this is the case, then signing one might be a very bad idea when litigating a personal injury lawsuit.
As sad as it is, there are those who are found liable in a civil suit for negligent or egregious actions and then continue to commit those same actions time and time again. The reason is they seemingly get away with what they have done and are able to take advantage of an unsuspecting public. The only way the public can be made aware of this is if someone tells them. The person who does herald the warnings does have to have some level of credibility. The company can merely claim the person is disgruntled and a complainer.
However, if the company has been found liable in court or has agreed to a large settlement, then it becomes obvious there is more the person's story than simply being disgruntled.
It is understandable that a defendant may want certain particulars of a case kept from being revealed. If reports of a settlement or verdict are revealed, a number of frivolous lawsuits can end up being filed against the company. Hence, it is a wise strategy on the part of the business to have some level of confidentiality maintained.
A problem can emerge though when the defendant is making vast demands for confidentiality that only benefit the defendant in a unilateral manner. Plaintiffs may wish to seriously discuss the wiseness of signing such an agreement with their injury law attorney before actually taking the steps to do so.
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