Toward an “apology privilege”

“On the one hand, it should not surprise us that genuine contrition defuses litigation. Anybody who has ever served as a general counsel of a corporation knows — or should know — that most people bring lawsuits because they are angry. … On the other hand, we have created rules of evidence that make it very difficult for people and institutions to apologize. … If you apologize, it can and will be used against you to prove liability. If you don’t apologize, though, you may increase the likelihood of the lawsuit, you avoid coming to terms with your own culpability, and you fuel the rage of the person you injured.

“Two states, Colorado and Oregon, have created a little space for civility by passing laws that bar plaintiffs from introducing a doctor’s apology as evidence in a medical malpractice case. A great start, but why carve out an ‘apology privilege’ just for doctors?” — Jack Henneman of Tigerhawk (May 18). And see Cut to Cure, also May 18.

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