Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Clauses in Settlement Agreements
If you settle a personal injury case, it is almost certain that the other side will require you to sign a settlement agreement, a document that memorializes the terms of your settlement. Of course, that document will detail what you get, as the victim—but it will also document some things that the liable party or its insurance company wants.
One of those things that is in almost every settlement agreement is a confidentiality agreement. As the name implies, this is your agreement to keep the terms of the settlement absolutely confidential. In some cases it can mean just what you settled for, but in other cases, depending on the wording, it can even require that you keep private every fact or detail about the accident itself.
Whatever you agree to keep confidential doesn’t apply just to your verbal conversations. It applies to any conversations—even social media, message boards or the internet. Obviously, it would also prohibit you from telling the media about your settlement or the facts of the case.
But they go even further than that. Many confidentiality agreements restrict you from telling friends or even close family facts about the case or settlement. You may ask: how would anybody know if you told your husband about the settlement at the dinner table? Possibly nobody – until your husband mentions something about it on his social media feed, or at work.
Practically, are there agents from the insurance company monitoring your whole family for violations of your confidentiality clauses? Not really. But we do live in a social media age. If something went viral, or just got into the hands (or social media feeds) of someone who works at a given insurance company, there could be a problem.
In some settlement agreements, the defendant may want you to agree to a non-disparagement clause. In these kinds of agreements, you aren’t just agreeing not to say anything about the settlement or the facts of your case—you’re agreeing you won’t say anything bad about the defendant at all, anywhere.
Because these are very broad, they really act as a restraint on your ability to speak your mind or your opinion. Simply saying “Company X is a terrible company and has drivers who can’t drive” could be a violation of your non-disparagement clause. Saying that a company is “ruthless,” or “has no ethics” can get you in trouble if you have signed a non-disparagement clause.
You should speak with your personal injury attorney about what is in your settlement agreement. Don’t just be tempted to accept it, just because it has a dollar figure you want to accept. Remember that if you go to trial, there is no confidentiality if you win. That’s one benefit of trying your case in court before a jury.
Call the Knoxville dangerous drug & defective medical device attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your injury, malpractice, or drug defect case.