Settlement Discussions in Your Indiana Personal Injury Case
Feb. 1, 2015
You were injured in a Northwest Indiana car accident or slip and fall and your case has been going on for a while. The insurance company has offered you settlement money at least 5 times but it isn't enough. The trial is set for next week.
Wouldn't it be easy for your attorney to tell the jury that the defendant's insurance company has already offered 50,000 to settle your case but you think the case is worth 100,000? This brings up the question, will the jury in your personal injury case hear about settlement negotiations between you and the insurance company?
It would seem logical and straight forward for you to get on the witness stand and tell the jury about your injuries, how the accident has impacted your life and why you believe your case is worth more than the fifty grand already offered by the insurance company.
This strategy and procedure would make your jury's job a little easier. But guess what. It isn't going to happen. Your jury will never learn about any settlement discussions with the insurance company. Why? Because Indiana's evidence rules do not allow the jury to learn about any settle discussions. Specifically, Rule 408 says:
Compromise Offers and Negotiations
Prohibited Uses. Evidence of the following is not admissible on behalf of any party either to prove or disprove the validity or amount of a disputed claim or to impeach by a prior inconsistent statement or a contradiction:
furnishing, promising, or offering, or accepting, promising to accept, or offering to accept a valuable consideration in order to compromise the claim; and
conduct or a statement made during compromise negotiations about the claim. Compromise negotiations include alternative dispute resolution.
The fact that a jury will never learn about what happened before trial is one of he risks of going to trial. Juries can be unpredictable and you never know what a jury is going to do with your case.