When you are injured through the negligence of another party, you are likely to suffer from stress and anxiety as well as financial losses. Defendants can also be worried about the potential impact that the incident can have on their lives. One question that both plaintiffs and defendants often ask is whether personal injury lawsuits are a matter of public record in Nevada. Although settlements are not a matter of public record, lawsuits are, and this can have unexpected and potentially unpleasant consequences.
What Information Becomes Public in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If your personal injury claim goes to court, everything that is presented in court becomes accessible by anyone who knows how to access the information. This can include the details of the plaintiff’s injury and its impact on his or her life, the testimonies of witnesses, the arguments presented by both attorneys, and your name and possibly your address. In other words, the entire transcript of the trial will become a matter of public record.
Potential Consequences of Publicly Published Personal Injury Lawsuits
Settling a claim before it goes to court is less expensive, less stressful and allows defendants to avoid admitting negligence or accepting liability. However, although many personal injury claims are settled without going to court, only your attorney can advise you whether you should settle or pursue litigation. Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the possible impacts of a publicly published court record, so they can advise their clients on the potential positive and negative results. However, you might want to consider the following points.
- You may prefer litigation if you want to make a statement about the actions of the defendant. For example, if your injury was the result of a defective product, you might want to make sure that the public is warned about the potential risks of using the product or encourage others injured by the product to seek compensation.
- You may want to avoid litigation if you are planning to apply for a mortgage before the case goes to court. Lenders are allowed to ask whether you are involved in any lawsuits as a plaintiff or defendant. Not every lender will ask, and your answer does not automatically disqualify you. However, lenders are very concerned about whether borrowers will be able to make payments over the life of the loan. Although defendants usually have the greater financial risk, plaintiffs may worry that disclosing the extent and nature of their injuries might cause lenders to question whether these injuries could impact their ability to continue in their chosen career.
- During a court proceeding, any question considered relevant is allowed. You might find yourself having to answer questions about your medical history or your private life that you might not want potential or current employers to know.
- You will likely have to present your income tax returns to validate claims for lost wages. You may not want your fellow employees or members of your extended family to be able to access this information, especially if you have a financially challenged relative who frequently asks you for help.
- You may also prefer to keep the amount you receive to yourself if you want to avoid requests for financial assistance from friends and relatives who feel entitled to share in what they may consider a disposable windfall. They may equate your award with winning the lottery, ignoring the fact that you may be facing a lifetime of medical bills, potentially reduced earnings, or other financial losses due to your injury.
- If you have a criminal record, that information may be used against you in court. Although some crimes may have little bearing on your current case, perjury, fraud and other crimes indicating untrustworthiness or dishonesty can undermine your case as well as become part of the public record.
- Witnesses testifying on your behalf may be loved ones or friends. The opposition may look into their past and present the information in court in an effort to discredit their testimony. You or your witnesses might not be willing to have their reputations impugned or their honesty questioned.
- If your case goes to court, you may have to discuss some highly private aspects, and these details will become a matter of public record. For example, if your injury led to incontinence, impotence or painful intercourse, you might prefer to keep this information to yourself.
Fortunately, the experienced lawyers at Powerhouse Injury Attorneys know how to evaluate all evidence and documents to ensure that they are relevant, not misleading, authentic, and admissible. If they are objectionable and the judge sustains the objection, the information will not become a matter of public record. Our attorneys will guide you through your case, including helping you decide whether to settle or take your case to court. Our extensive experience in personal injury law has given us insight into the expected duration of your case, the steps that will be involved, and the actions that the opposition will likely take. We will work hard to help you obtain a favorable outcome. For a free case consultation, call our office at 702-444-2222 for Las Vegas, NV, or 602-265-5555 for Phoenix Arizona. You can also or contact us through our website.