Whenever you’re considering a medical malpractice claim, remember that doctors and malpractice insurance companies have powerful resources at their disposal. One example of one of the tactics that doctors and insurance companies have thought up was recently rejected by an Iowa judge was secrecy. The lawsuit, which was filed against the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, would have been settled on the condition that the terms of the settlement and the amount being paid wouldn’t be revealed without written permission from the defendant, according to an article in Business Week.
The terms of this settlement were not unique. These terms were found to have been included in other settlements and this has raised concern among some lawmakers. According to the articles, attorneys different on their opinions. A plaintiff may get a larger settlement by agreeing to the secrecy and, in some cases, it prevents the amount of money they received from being divulged to friends and family.
The reason the judge refused this confidentiality requirement is because she didn’t believe that she had the legal authority to make information about a settlement with a government body a secret in any way. These are considered public record in Iowa.
Just as your medical malpractice law firm will seek to represent your interests, the attorneys for the doctor’s malpractice insurance provider or the attorneys for the healthcare provider that are sued will seek to represent their clients. Of course, these are usually entities with plenty of money to spare and ones that can certainly afford to defend themselves in court. There is usually a concern on the part of these entities that their reputations aren’t disparaged and, to that end, they may well opt to include conditions in the settlements they negotiate with their clients that are designed to preserve their public image.
Make sure you only get medical malpractice information from your own attorney. They have your interests in mind and will make sure that you get the right information when you ask for it. There are different state laws and different settlement arrangements that the doctors and insurance companies can use to their advantage. Remember that your attorney will help you negotiate a settlement and, if there is something in it that works against your interests, they will let you know so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to take the settlement offer or go ahead with a jury trial.