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Key Aspects of Washington’s Evidence Rules: In Washington State’s legal system, understanding what evidence is permissible in court is crucial, especially under Rule 408. This rule, central to civil cases, governs the admissibility of evidence related to compromise and settlement offers.

Understanding ER 408

Admissibility of Compromise-Related Evidence: ER 408 in Washington State law specifically deals with the use of certain evidence in the context of settling a claim. The rule has two core components:

  1. Compromise Offer Evidence: In civil cases, evidence related to offering or accepting anything of value to settle a claim is not admissible, especially if the claim’s validity or amount is in dispute.
  2. Negotiation Conduct and Statements: The rule also renders conduct or statements made during compromise negotiations inadmissible.

The Rule’s Objective

Promoting Settlement Discussions: The essence of ER 408 is to encourage parties to engage in settlement talks without the fear of their discussions being used against them in court, facilitating open and honest negotiations.

Exceptions to ER 408

When Compromise Evidence May Be Used:

  • Evidence for Other Purposes: ER 408 allows the use of evidence for reasons other than proving a claim’s liability or invalidity, such as showing a witness’s bias or obstructing criminal investigations.
  • Evidence Discoverable Outside Negotiations: The rule does not exclude evidence that can be obtained independently from the compromise talks.


ER 408’s Role in Washington’s Legal System: This rule is a cornerstone in ensuring fair and efficient settlement processes in civil litigation. It highlights the importance of strategic negotiation and maintaining the integrity of legal proceedings. Understanding ER 408 is essential for legal practitioners and litigants in navigating the complexities of evidence admissibility in settlement negotiations.

You can read the text of ER 408 here:

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We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us