The Sorry Laws
A sincere apology is a good way to avoid a lawsuit, but it can backfire. That's because in some states, courts can treat "I'm sorry" as "I'm guilty." Ask your attorney about the law in your state--and think twice if you find yourself dealing with someone litigious.
- No protection for apologies In many jurisdictions, an apology can be used in court as an admission of guilt. How to Say Sorry: Don't--if you're concerned about a lawsuit. One exception: Apologies made during settlement negotiations are generally not admissible in court.
- Partial apology protection In many places (including Texas, California, and Florida) certain apologies are not permitted as evidence. How to Say Sorry: State laws vary, but a safe apology generally is one that shares your sympathies without accepting responsibility--"I'm sorry that you're hurt," not "I'm sorry that I hurt you."
- Total apology protection No states currently protect all apologies in all cases, though many legislatures are trying to move in that direction. Some states (such as Colorado) protect them in certain situations, such as medical liability.