When someone slips and falls on ice outside of a business, or on a puddle of water inside a restaurant, and suffers an injury, and there is no ice on the sidewalk, or no wet floor sign, what happens? In a lawsuit for a personal injury, this might show that the company was liable for the injury that occurred. However, what happens if, the day after someone was injured, the company salted the sidewalk or put up a wet floor sign to prevent a further injury?
What Do The Indiana Rules of Evidence Say About Subsequent Remedial Measures?
This is known as a subsequent remedial measure, and under the Indiana Rules of Evidence, it cannot be admitted as evidence during a trial to show that the company was liable for the personal injury caused.
Indiana Rules of Evidence Rule # 403 States:
“When after an event, measures are taken which, if taken previously, would have made the event less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence or culpable conduct in connection with the event. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of subsequent measures when offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, if controverted, or impeachment.”
Why Prevent the Jury From Seeing It?
To many People, this might seem counterproductive – if the company fixed the thing that injured me, or notified others of this danger, why can’t I show this in trial?
There is a policy reason for this. The courts do not want to scare companies out of fixing these problems that can cause injuries. Let us use an example, say a whole batch of cars that have faulty breaks. One buyer of the car suffers significant injuries, and the car manufacturer sends out a letter of recall for the cars. If the court allowed for that first buyer to introduce the letter into evidence to show that the car manufacturer caused their injuries, it could make the car manufacturer, in the future, to not send that letter and prevent further injuries.
The rule against introducing subsequent remedial measures is in place so that companies will still take those measures to prevent any further injury. Of course, they should have been more careful in the first place, but this measure ensures that more people do not get hurt. There are other ways to get this evidence into the trial, however.
Subsequent remedial measures can be introduced in order to prove ownership or control, when it is in dispute. For instance, if someone slips and falls on ice in a parking lot outside of a restaurant and injures themselves, and the restaurant denies ownership of the parking lot, then evidence that the restaurant salted the parking lot the next day is admissible to show that the restaurant does in fact own the parking lot.
This can be important because there are certainly times where a company will deny that is has ownership of a certain area, like a sidewalk or a parking lot, but then will fix that thing that caused the injury. If a company does in fact fix the issue themselves, they are taking a subsequent remedial measure and admitting control while doing it.
While subsequent remedial measures cannot be admitted to show fault or liability, they can be admitted to show control or ownership of an area. This rule is in place to encourage companies to take these measures if someone is injured due to an issue they have created. If companies did not take these measures due to their admissibility in court, then many more people could be injured. This rule is in place to encourage companies to prevent further injury while still owning up to their mistakes or negligence.
Have You Been Injured Recently?
Recently injured in an accident and sorting through what to do about your personal injury case? Contact Hurst Limontes LLC today or call 317-636-0808 to receive a consultation today from one of our personal injury attorneys!