29-Mar-2012

Written By: Attorney Kevin P. Fine

 

Many personal injury clients are surprised to learn that, when we pursue their claim in court, the existence of liability insurance is never mentioned to the jury.  The person who is named as the defendant in the court documents is the driver who caused the accident, and his or her insurance company is not named.  The Rules of Evidence keep it out.

 

The logic behind keeping it out is that a jury should make a decision on what to compensate for the harms and losses independently of who will pay the money.  The fact that the verdict will be paid by an insurance company cannot be mentioned.  If it is, the judge will likely call a mistrial.

 

And the fact is that a jury likely would be influenced by that information.  Jurors may be inclined to give a higher verdict if they knew an insurance company was paying.  But the opposite is also true; a jury may award less than the full value of the losses if jurors assume the person sitting in the defendant’s chair will have to write a check for the verdict amount. 

 

So, the law has currently decided to keep such information out, and allow the jury to assume that the defendant will be personally paying the verdict, even thought that is almost never the case.

 

If you have questions regarding how insurance law works, please contact our office.