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Florida’s “Apology Statute” as Evidence in Car Accident Lawsuit

After an accident, individuals may experience a sense of shock and fear, and these emotions can elicit statements and conduct that may not accurately reflect what the person is feeling. For instance, many people apologize after an accident, despite not being at fault for the series of events that led to the collision. Although it is a natural human emotion to apologize, it is vital that individuals limit what they say after an accident. While expressing remorse or saying sorry does not necessarily destroy a claim to damages, an at-fault party’s apology does not automatically impute liability on that person either.

Under Florida’s evidentiary laws, most out-of-court statements cannot be used as evidence during a trial. Evidence is permissible so long as it is relevant, yet some statements made outside of the courtroom are inadmissible as “hearsay.” However, some statements that an opposing party makes may be used against them during court proceedings. The permissibility of the statements depends on what the other party stated. For instance, if the at-fault driver gets out of their vehicle after an accident and states, “I am sorry this was all my fault,” that statement may be used against them. In contrast, a statement merely expressing remorse may not overcome the hearsay rules.

Apologizing may be an instinctual reaction and does not automatically amount to an admission of guilt. These critical distinctions have presented plaintiffs with evidentiary challenges during Florida car accident claims. Florida’s “apology statute” addresses when a statement may be used as evidence. Under the statute, “benevolent gestures” where one expresses sympathy regarding pain, suffering or death cannot be used as evidence in court. However, a gesture in combination with an admission of fault may be used as evidence. Courts will engage in inquiries to determine whether a statement is admissible.

For instance, recently, the Florida driver responsible for crashing into the Pride parade issued a public apology for the incident. According to reports, the driver lost control of his truck and drove through the Pride event. The accident resulted in the death of one of the participants and injury to two others. The responsible driver stated his sincere regrets for the incident and stated that he “would never do anything to harm anyone intentionally.” In a situation like this, members of the victim’s family may try to use this apology as evidence of guilt. However, the driver may assert that his statement was a gesture of benevolence rather than an admission of fault.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died in a Florida car accident, contact Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada for assistance. The dedicated and skilled Florida personal injury lawyers at our office have an extensive history of successfully representing injury victims and getting them the compensation they deserve. Our firm handles Florida lawsuits stemming from car accidents, boat collisions, defective products, premises liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. We understand the complex and nuanced evidentiary and procedural laws that govern these cases. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.

 

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