Sunday, May 13, 2012

MBE Fast Fact: Relevant Evidence Excluded Due to Public Policy

A distinction tested on the MBE deals with evidence that, though relevant, is excluded due to public policy considerations. One type of evidence that falls within this category is settlement offers. Another type is offers to pay medical expenses.

In regards to settlement offers, evidence of compromises or offers to compromise, is not admissible to prove liability for, or invalidity of, a claim that is disputed as to validity or amount. Importantly, direct admissions of liability during these negotiations are excluded from admissible evidence as well. In other words, if x admits liability in the process of attempting to settle a claim, any statements as to x's attempting to settle the claim, and any statement in regards to x's liability, are excluded from evidence. Do not fall into the trap of admitting such statements as an admission by a party opponent (which are generally exempt from the rule against hearsay).

In regards to offers to pay medical expenses, payment of, or offers to pay, the injured party's medical expenses are inadmissible. The distinction here to keep in mind is that admissions of fact accompanying offers to pay medical expenses are admissible. In other words, such statements as to liability can be admitted as an admission by a party opponent, even if made while offering to pay the other party's medical expenses.

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