Tenn. R. Evid. 409.1
Advisory Commission Comment .
Rule 409.1 renders inadmissible certain statements and actions reflecting sympathy for persons injured in accidents. This Rule, like Evidence Rules, , and , is designed to encourage the settlement of lawsuits. It complements Evidence Rule , which makes inadmissible payment of medical and related expenses on the issue of liability. The underlying theory of Rule 409.1 is that a settlement of a lawsuit is more likely if the defendant is free to express sympathy for the plaintiff's injuries without making a statement that would be admissible as an admission of a party opponent. Without this rule, a defendant's statement such is "I am sorry that you have suffered so much from the accident" might well be admissible as an admission of a party opponent. Accordingly, defense counsel may advise against making such statements in order to avoid the creation of harmful evidence. Yet a simple apology may go a long way toward making an injured party feel more comfortable with a nonjudicial settlement of the matter. This process is consistent with the modern focus on mediation and other methods of dispute resolution that seek to avoid a trial by facilitating a resolution acceptable to all parties.
The rule is similar to that enacted in Massachusetts (Mass Ann. Laws ch. 233, §) and California (West's Ann. Cal. Evid.Code § ). A Texas provision is also consistent with Rule 409.1. See Vernon's Tex. Stat. & Code Ann., Civ. Prac. & Remedies Code § .
Rule 409.1 embraces only civil cases involving an "accident." It is inapplicable in criminal cases. It also extends only to "benevolent gestures"; it does not exclude statements of fault.