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Ben Glass
Ben Glass
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"I'm Sorry" Banned in Washington

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A Seattle, Washington newspaper is reporting on a compromise tort reform law agreed to by doctors and lawyers.
The bill includes a provision similar to what we have in Virginia medical malpractice cases in that if a doctor or other health care provider apologizes or says he’s “sorry” following a medical mishap, that statement is not admissible in a later lawsuit.

This makes a lot of sense and can add a touch of a “human touch” to otherwise contentious lawsuits. Doctors are human and often are devastated by the result their error caused. Usually, it’s the insurance company and their lawyers that get in the way of settlement of meritorious cases that the doctors want to put behind them as much as the patients do.

Here’s the quote from Seattle

Lawmakers and others also agreed that one of the most significant changes provided in the legislation is a protection for doctors who want to apologize. The bill would make saying “I’m sorry” and other statements of regret, or even admitting fault, within the 30 days of discovery inadmissible in court.

Gregoire said that as attorney general, she had seen many cases in which this clause would have made a world of difference.

“In the most contentious of tort lawsuits, the lawyers would sit and talk to each other about settlement of a case when suddenly you have a family member who would speak up and say, ‘All I want is for someone to say they’re sorry,’ ” Gregoire said.

The other major compromise in Washington is that there will be no artificial limits on recovery in lawsuits.