Attorneys and clients often sign settlement papers without a close review. After all, the case is finished. Right? It’s time to get the money. When a case settles, the plaintiff gets paid and drops the claim. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Yet, the language in settlement papers does have meaning. And, sometimes that language creates more potential liability. A good lawyer carefully reviews all documents and works to protect his client.
Case settlement is not always the simple process of signing a release and receiving a check. Many personal injury cases have difficult issues related to claims for medical bills. In other cases, for a variety of reasons, a defendant wants the settlement to remain confidential. Now, I don’t really like secret deals. I think they are bad for our tort system. Secret deals allow companies to hide safety issues in their products. Secret deals allow defendants to hide their bad actions from others who were also harmed. And, secret deals mean more contract language that can create issues in the future for your client.
I’ve written about the potential tax issues previously. Now, confidential settlements are back in the news. Why? Because bragging on Facebook just cost a Florida man his settlement. For accuracy, I need to say that the plaintiff himself did not do the bragging. His daughter did. As a result, he gets no settlement proceeds. If you have not learned by now, be careful what you post on Facebook.