Things To Look Out For In Your Settlement Agreement
Your personal injury case may go to trial, where a jury will decide whether or not you get compensation for your injuries. But most cases don’t go to trial—they settle before a trial even happens. When you settle, it’s not just a matter of you getting compensation for your injuries or expenses. The other side will also want you to sign a settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement is an important document. It has things in it that you may want to be aware of before you sign it. Here are some common things to look out for, when reading, reviewing and agreeing to a settlement agreement.
Confidentiality – Are you agreeing to keep the terms of the settlement confidential? If that’s what you want, that’s fine. Just be aware that telling anybody about your settlement—sometimes, even close family members—could be a violation of the confidentiality agreement.
Often confidentiality agreements have penalties. The last thing you want is to owe money to the other side because you discussed your settlement with your son, wife, or co-worker.
Indemnity – The other side may want you to agree to protect them if any of your medical providers, like hospitals or doctors, go after them for unpaid medical expenses. Think carefully, and discuss with your injury attorney whether you want to agree to do this.
Normally, it’s not an issue—your injury attorney will make sure all your medical providers are paid from the proceeds of your settlement. But if something falls through the cracks, you don’t want to end up having to protect the same party that you just sued.
Time – Usually, insurance companies will pay your settlement on time, and in a reasonable time. However, if you’re not suing an insurance company, you may want to consider a timeframe for how long you will wait for the settlement payment. Additionally, you should consider a penalty for not paying on time. This can include extra moneys, or that the other side will pay your attorney’s fees, if you have to go to court to force compliance with the settlement agreement.
Waivers – Certainly, if you settle your case, it is expected that you are settling all your claims against the party you sued in full. But is that waiver covering all claims related to this lawsuit? Or all claims ever?
If you settle with WalMart today for an injury that happened last year, are you agreeing to never sue Walmart for anything ever no matter how far in the future? Many settlement agreements go this far—you must be aware of the language to make sure you’re not agreeing to waive too many of your rights in return for your settlement money.
What about non-injury cases? If you need to sue Walmart for a misleading warranty –something unrelated to your accident and injuries–have you waived those claims also? A waiver needs to be very specific, so you don’t give up more rights than you have to.
Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, today for help with your personal injury case, from start to finish.