Florida personal injury lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, explains why the evidence rules do not allow the jury to find out that the defendant offered to settle a personal injury case before trial.
During settlement negotiations in any legal case the parties will concede certain points of contention. For instance, the defendant's insurance adjuster or the defendant may say – “yes, I agree the defendant wasn't paying attention” or “the crash was my fault” or “I should have fixed the step.” The question becomes, if the case does not settle, why can't the jury know that the defendant conceded the point? Wouldn't it make it easier to prove the case? The answer lies in Florida rule of evidence 408, which says:
Evidence of an offer to compromise a claim which was disputed as to the validity or amount, as well as any relevant conduct or statements made in negotiations concerning a compromise, is inadmissible to prove liability or absence of liability for the claim or its value.
The purpose of the Rule
In theory, the purpose behind the rule is to allow parties to a claim or lawsuit to have frank discussions regarding the pros and cons of their case, without it coming back to bite them in the future. The rule is supposed to encourage settlement outside of the courtroom, which in turns frees up court time for cases in which the parties cannot come to a resolution.
In order for the rule to apply, there must be a dispute about who is responsible for the incident or the value of the person's injury. If there is no dispute regarding these issues – then the rule doesn't apply. But to tell you the truth, if there is no dispute over fault or the money that the injured person is entitled to receive, then the case is not going to trial.
Florida personal injury law can be complex. If you have any questions about a Florida personal injury claim, you can always call me directly on my cell phone at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.