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Navigating Evidence in Personal Injury Cases: Understanding the nuances of evidence admissibility is crucial in legal disputes, particularly in personal injury cases. Washington State’s Evidence Rule 409 (ER 409) plays a pivotal role in this context, specifically addressing the admissibility of payments for medical and related expenses.

Decoding ER 409

Legal Boundaries of Medical Expense Evidence: ER 409 establishes that evidence of paying, offering, or promising to pay medical or similar expenses related to an injury is not admissible to prove liability for that injury. This provision significantly influences the presentation of evidence in court.

The Intent Behind ER 409

Fostering Goodwill in Injury Assistance: The rule’s primary goal is to promote humanitarian gestures, allowing parties to assist injured individuals without their actions being seen as admissions of liability. ER 409 encourages covering medical costs without the fear of legal repercussions.

Impacts on Personal Injury Litigation

Differentiating Compassion from Liability: In legal disputes, such as personal injury lawsuits, ER 409 ensures that aiding the injured by covering medical costs is not misconstrued as admitting fault. The rule clearly distinguishes between acts of compassion and legal responsibility.

Crucial for Legal Professionals: Understanding ER 409 is vital for attorneys and legal experts, particularly in strategizing for injury and accident-related cases. It safeguards against the use of medical expense payments as liability evidence, influencing litigation strategies.


ER 409’s Role in Fair Legal Process: As an integral part of Washington State’s evidence rules, ER 409 ensures that paying medical expenses is not equated with admitting injury liability. Legal practitioners must grasp this rule to adeptly handle evidence admissibility challenges in injury cases, reflecting a balance between encouraging benevolent actions and upholding justice in legal proceedings.

You can read ER 409 here:

Review our client resources here

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About Blanford Law:

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