Anonymity and Privacy in Personal Injury Settlements
As a general rule civil legal cases which go to court, including personal injury claims, are heard in public. This means that the names of those involved and details of how much compensation they receive are on public record. In some cases claimants welcome publicity because they hope it will raise awareness of particular problems such as a very dangerous stretch of road, dangerous equipment, or a company without appropriate health and safety procedures.However, not everyone is comfortable with this. For many people who are seriously injured, and their families, obtaining a large settlement is just the start of many other issues, such as how to budget and invest the funds and how to protect any benefits they are receiving.If this sum is publicised, there can sometimes be unwanted attention from distant family and friends, or even people in the local community. They are often motivated and attracted by a significant award. However an award of damages is not a lottery win. Where the injured person has been left with mental or physical difficulties the money will be spent on their care and carers and on the necessary medical expenses. The award has to last for as long as the need lasts and must therefore be spent wisely. Money spent unwisely cannot be recovered.It is therefore not surprising that the larger the claim value the more likely the injured party is to hope for privacy and confidentiality. They are often reluctantly pursuing the claim. They would have preferred not to be injured in the first place. A large settlement is only a sign that the claimant has severe long term costly medical and care needs.Michael Wangermann, a personal injury partner at Ashtons Legal, explains: “In some cases it is possible to apply for anonymity for our clients. Not every claim will satisfy the criteria for anonymity but where a settlement order is private to the parties and anonymous to the public, it will remain just that. This is just one of the many ways in which we aim to make the process of bringing an injury claim as stress-free as possible for our clients at a time when they are already facing other difficulties.”
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