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Legalize Apologies

There is an accident. A customer, employee or third person is injured. You want to say you are sorry. Should you?

The legal answer is absolutely not! Under current evidence rules for Oregon (and probably every other state), an apology can be introduced in court as an admission of liability. That’s right, express concern for another human and you can be punished.

Saying you are sorry, however, can reduce lawsuits. That is the finding of recent medical studies. When doctors make a mistake and apologize, they are sued less frequently. At least 35 states have adopted laws so that doctors can apologize without admitting liability. This includes Oregon. ORS 677.082.

What is good for doctors should be good for everyone. If your dog bites a neighbor, you should be able to apologize. If you are involved in a car accident, you should be able to apologize. If a customer, employee or third party suffers an injury or is disappointed, you should be able to apologize.

By legalizing apologies, the Oregon legislature can encourage people to resolve disputes among themselves. Wouldn’t that be good for Oregon?

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