Are Car Accident Settlements a Matter of Public Record in Florida?
According to a 2020 census, there were over 18,464,506 cars registered in Florida, making the state the third highest in regard to the number of vehicles in the nation. Ahead of Florida are California and Texas, with the most registered vehicles. These three states account for approximately 26% of the nation’s total.
With so many cars on Florida’s roadways, the risk of accidents is there. When you are involved in an accident that was due to the negligence of another, and you suffer injuries and significant damages, you would typically file a personal injury claim. As you go through the process, though, you may be wondering. Are car accident settlements a matter of public record in Florida? Let’s explore this.
A Settlement Is Public Record
A lot of information can be found on a person through public record databases. Information like their date of birth, information that can be found on their marriage licenses or birth certificates, and criminal history are all things someone can access if it is searched.
If your personal injury case goes to court, all the information in the case will be made public record. This includes details of the settlement amount, the transcripts from court testimonies, and other details pertaining to your injuries.
On the other hand, if the case is settled outside of court, these details aren’t necessarily going to be a matter of public record at that point. Once the case settles, those personal details about yourself and your settlement amount will not be placed into public record for anyone to access.
Settling Outside of Court
So, should you settle outside of the Florida court system? This really depends on several factors. One of the main factors is whether both parties can agree on a fair settlement amount. You may want to take your chance in court if there is no agreement. However, weigh the benefits of going to court versus settling outside before making a decision.
Benefits of Settling Outside of Court
When you choose to settle out of court, you can keep all your personal information private and rest assured that the documents will not become a part of public record. Many find that keeping their information private is the biggest benefit of settling outside of court. In fact, approximately 95% of personal injury cases settle outside of court.
Another benefit is faster results. When a personal injury claim settles outside of court, the settlement is reached much faster than it would if you went through a trial to get a judgment in court. When you go to court, you have to wait for the court dates, and the trial can prove to be long, which delays your compensation.
When You Should Go to Court
There are some instances where it might benefit you to take your case to court. For example, your settlement offer doesn’t accurately reflect the damages. This is often the case when long-lasting and sustained damage will significantly impact the victim’s life. When the settlement offer doesn’t reflect this kind of hardship, and the other party admits fault, you can refuse negotiations and take your chance in court.
Additionally, if you seek other damages beyond what you owe for medical bills and loss of earnings, and the accident has significantly affected you physically and emotionally, you may want to go to court with your attorney and fight for the compensation you need deserve.
No matter what you decide, a Florida personal injury attorney can help you navigate the process and offer advice on the best way to proceed with your claim. He can also further explain the pros and cons of your personal information becoming a part of public record and what this could ultimately mean when and if you go to court.