Evidence of furnishing, promising to pay, or offering to pay medical, hospital, or similar expenses resulting from an injury is not admissible to prove liability for the injury.
Summary and Explanation
Evidence that addresses the admissibility of evidence related to offering to pay medical and similar expenses. This rule plays a key role in legal proceedings, particularly in civil cases.
Key aspects of Rule 409 include:
- Exclusion of Offers to Pay Medical Expenses:
- The rule specifically states that evidence of offering or promising to pay medical, hospital, or similar expenses resulting from an injury is not admissible to prove liability for the injury.
- The rationale behind this exclusion is to encourage humanitarian gestures and assistance to injured parties without fear of such acts being construed as admissions of liability.
- Scope of the Exclusion:
- It’s important to note that the exclusion applies only to the offer or payment of medical expenses. It does not extend to other statements made in connection with the offer. For example, if a person says “I’m sorry, I was driving too fast, I’ll pay for your medical expenses,” while the offer to pay is not admissible, the admission of driving too fast might be.
- Limited to Medical and Similar Expenses:
- The rule is specific to offers to pay medical, hospital, or similar expenses. It does not apply to other types of expenses or damages that may be relevant in a legal case.
- Encouraging Assistance:
- By excluding these offers from evidence, the rule aims to foster a willingness among individuals to assist others who are injured without the concern that their offer of help will be used against them in a legal setting.
Federal Rule of Evidence 409 serves to exclude evidence of offering or promising to pay for medical and similar expenses in an effort to encourage humanitarian aid. It is designed to ensure that acts of kindness and offers of assistance are not misinterpreted as admissions of guilt or liability in a legal context. However, other statements made in conjunction with such offers may still be admissible, depending on the context and content.
(Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1933; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)
Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules
The considerations underlying this rule parallel those underlying Rules 407 and 408, which deal respectively with subsequent remedial measures and offers of compromise. As stated in Annot., 20 A.L.R.2d 291, 293:
“[G]enerally, evidence of payment of medical, hospital, or similar expenses of an injured party by the opposing party, is not admissible, the reason often given being that such payment or offer is usually made from humane impulses and not from an admission of liability, and that to hold otherwise would tend to discourage assistance to the injured person.”
Contrary to Rule 408, dealing with offers of compromise, the present rule does not extend to conduct or statements not a part of the act of furnishing or offering or promising to pay. This difference in treatment arises from fundamental differences in nature. Communication is essential if compromises are to be effected, and consequently broad protection of statements is needed. This is not so in cases of payments or offers or promises to pay medical expenses, where factual statements may be expected to be incidental in nature.
For rules on the same subject, but phrased in terms of “humanitarian motives,” see Uniform Rule 52; California Evidence Code §1152; Kansas Code of Civil Procedure §60–452; New Jersey Evidence Rule 52.
Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment
The language of Rule 409 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.