When you go to trial in a personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to understand that there are a variety of rules and regulations during the trial process that dictate what information can be revealed to the jury. One such restriction is that a jury is prevented from knowing if the defendant has an insurance policy or not.
Why is this important to your personal injury case? This is set in place to prevent a jury from being influenced by the fact that a large insurance company will be making payments, as opposed to the defendant. Many argue that plaintiffs are at a disadvantage and may not be awarded a full and fair judgment if juries are not aware that insurance will be paying for damages as opposed to the defendant. However, there are a couple reasons why this is the case in these types of trials, and it has to do with preventing an unfair bias in the eyes of the jurors.
Insurance Not Considered Logically Connected to Any Issue in the Case
In a personal injury lawsuit, the argument for not allowing juries to know if the defendant carries insurance has a lot to do with the fact that liability in an accident or injury case has nothing to do with someone carrying insurance or not. A jury must be focused on who is responsible, or liable for a negligent act, and it can be argued that if the jury is aware that a big-name insurance company is involved, they may be more likely to rule in the favor of one side over the other.
Federal Rule of Evidence 411
The Federal Rule of Evidence 411 says that whether or not a person is insured against liability is not admissible in court. This is because it is not connected to whether that person actually acted negligently, or is liable for the act that led to another’s injury. However, a court may admit the proof of liability insurance for another reason, such as proving witness bias or prejudice, or proving agency, ownership, or control.
Collateral Source Rule Law in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
On the other side of the issue is the Collateral Source Rule Law says that a plaintiff is allowed to recover damages from a defendant irrespective of their own insurance coverage. Any evidence of the plaintiff’s additional sources of payment for expenses due to an accident, such as their own insurance coverage, is not relevant in the context of a liability case. Therefore, it’s not necessary to mention a plaintiff’s assistance from their own coverage, allowing him/her to potentially receive an award of double recovery if a defendant is found liable for damages.
In any accident where there was a serious injury or fatality, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney who can help you determine if you may be able to recover for economic and/or noneconomic damages. If your case goes to trial, you will want an experienced attorney on your side that can help you navigate the complicated process and advocate for your rights as a victim.
Federal Rules of Evidence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://rulesofevidence.org/article-iv/rule-411/
The Collateral Source Rule. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://biotech.law.lsu.edu/books/lbb/x93.htm
The 2017 Florida Statutes. (2017, October 25). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699%2F0627%2FSections%2F0627.4136.html