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 Offers of Compromise

Ep 142 – Offers of Compromise

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

In today’s podcast, we explain why an offer to settle or compromise a claim is inadmissible at trial.

Of course, an offer to compromise or settle a claim could be construed as an admission of fault. But an offer to settle could also be made to buy peace and resolve a dispute that the party making the offer disagrees with entirely, but for practical reasons, wants to avoid a trial.

Evidence Rule 408 provides in part:

Evidence of the following is not admissible … to prove or disprove … a disputed claim … : (1) furnishing, promising, or offering, or accepting, promising to accept, or offering to accept a valuable consideration in order to compromise the claim; and (2) conduct or a statement made during compromise negotiations about the claim.

Though you may, upon hearing this rule disagree with it. It does make sense.

The last thing a court wants to do is discourage settlement discussions.

If the law permitted parties to offer evidence of settlement discussions, there likely would never be another settlement discussion.

This rule excluding settlement discussion evidence applies to conversations between the parties, talks between the attorneys for the parties, and discussions with a mediator who tries to resolve a dispute.

That said, identifying a letter communicating a settlement offer as a “Rule 408 Offer to Compromise” is an intelligent thing to do. Doing so makes clear that the communication is not made as an admission of fault but rather as an attempt to settle the dispute.

People often call excited that the person they have a dispute with offered to pay for damages, believing that the admission will clinch their case if it gets before a jury.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”