Subsequent Remedial Measures Law and Legal Definition

After an accident occurs on or with a person’s property, that person may take remedial steps to ensure that the accident is not repeated in future. It is sound public policy to encourage people to take post accident remedial measures to reduce the possibility of others being exposed to similar accidents.

The subsequent remedial measures rule states that if after injury or harm measures are taken to rectify the harm, evidence of subsequent measures are not admissible at trial to prove negligence, culpable conduct, a defect in a product, a defect in a product's design, or a need for a warning or instruction.

The genesis of this subsequent remedial measures rule is a decision of English Court in 1869. Even though this rule was first rejected by American courts, it was eventually adopted by every state.

Most state rules are identical or substantially similar to the federal rule which is stated in USCS Fed Rules Evid R 407. Some states provide that the rule does not apply to strict liability cases. There are several exceptions to the subsequent remedies rule and this play an important role in the application of the rule.

USCS Fed Rules Evid R 407 reads as follows:

Rule 407. Subsequent Remedial Measures

When, after an injury or harm allegedly caused by an event, measures are taken that, if taken previously, would have made the injury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct, a defect in a product, a defect in a product's design, or a need for a warning or instruction. 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.

Example of a state statute on subsequent remedial measures

La. C.E. Art. 407. Subsequent remedial measures

In a civil case, 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 Article does not require the exclusion of evidence of subsequent measures when offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, authority, knowledge, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, or for attacking credibility.