Why is saying “I am sorry,” so hard in business relationships?

Last year we filed a case on behalf of a young woman who lost her child in childbirth.

Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, and cannot be discussed, one of the requests we made (and frequently make in medical malpractice cases) is that the defendant express in some way, that he or she is sorry for the harm caused.

I know it sounds trivial, but for many who have suffered great loss, some formal recognition of their suffering means more than anything.

  • I am sorry about what happened.
  • I am sorry for your sadness.
  • I am so sorry for your loss.
  • I wish it had turned out differently.

There is no magic formula to an apology. It can be in person, in writing, or through another person. If expressed in a business context, it should only be done if it can be done sincerely.

Sadly, the doctor’s lawyer said an apology wasn’t possible. It was just too risky. Too involved.

This week I read a great article on doctor apologies in the context of medical errors and commend anyone in medicine, or who has been the victim of malpractice to read the article.

I really do believe apologies matter. I believe they decrease the chance of a lawsuit. I also believe a heartfelt apology can even end a lawsuit or reduce the doctor’s liability.

We all just want to be heard, even in our moments of pain. Right?

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.