Date: September 26, 2012
Posted In: DLP Law

          Carol’s and her passenger Donna’s vehicle were rear ended on Main Street in Hawley while they were waiting for traffic to clear in order to make a left hand turn. The car behind Carol was driven by Paul, who immediately got out of the car and looked at the damages, which appeared to be relatively minor. Paul expressed his opinion that he felt that Carol had stopped short and was at least half responsible for the accident. Paul offered to pay for Donna and Carol’s medical expenses though and also fifty percent of the property damage to Carol’s vehicle. Paul did not want the accident reported because he was driving at the time with a suspended license.

             Despite coverage issues on Paul’s own vehicle, Paul’s auto carrier settled with Carol for both the property damage to her vehicle as well as her injuries. Donna though, was not satisfied with the offer and filed suit against Paul, which ultimately led to litigation.

 Issue:                        Can Donna’s attorney introduce into evidence the fact that Paul had initially offered to pay for the medical expenses of both ladies as well as fifty percent of the property damage to Carol’s vehicle?

 Answer:        No.

             With regards to the payment of the medical bills, that would be excluded since it is public policy to encourage people to resolve claims without litigation. Offers such as this have generally been excluded from admissible testimony. Likewise, offers of compromise or settlements made to one party are usually not admissible against that party. The Public policy is to encourage settlements and to allow this type of evidence would have a chilling effect on out of the court resolutions of cases.

 Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column. 



Cal Leventhal
Cal is a graduate of the University of Miami (magna Cum Laude) and attended Loyola and Notre Dame law schools graduating in 1976. He is admitted to the Bars of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and both state and federal trial and appellate courts situated in Pennsylvania.