Information Florida Jurors Are Not Allowed to Hear at Trial
Did you know that Florida law usually prohibits a jury in a personal injury case from knowing
whether a defendant has insurance coverage, what type of coverage, and the amount of coverage available?
Why is that? The rationale is that if a jury is aware of the defendant’s available insurance coverage, then the jury may base its decision to award damages on the availability and amount of insurance coverage, rather than on the evidence presented at trial.
It is potentially reversible error if evidence of insurance is presented to the jury; however, in reality, juries often speculate on whether the defendant has available insurance coverage, which may lead to an unfair result. Most defendants in car accident cases are individuals; not corporations. Attorneys, hired by the insurance companies to defend defendants in car accident cases, often use this to their advantage by presenting evidence about their client’s occupation, the type of car they drive, where they live, etc., to give the impression that the defendant could be financially hurt, if the jury awarded significant damages at trial.
What most jurors do not know are the extraordinary lengths that an insurance company will go to keep insurance information away from the jury.
If the case goes to trial, at the end of the trial, a jury will render its verdict. Assuming the jury returns an award for the plaintiff, the defendant’s insurer pays the amount of the judgment up to the insurance policy’s limits. The defendant is personally liable only for the financial compensation above the policy limits (Some insurance companies pay this too).
Insurance companies often appeal adverse verdicts with the hope to reverse a plaintiff’s verdict, and at a minimum, to tie up a plaintiff’s money hoping that the plaintiff settles post-verdict for less.
So, how does a jury make a fair judgment without all the facts and evidence? How do injured parties recover the full amount of damages that they truly deserve?
Unfortunately, the law does not allow the plaintiff’s attorney to tell the jury about a defendant’s insurance company or the available insurance coverage. In most of these cases, you can be sure there is an insurance company behind the defendant. And, most attorneys will not take cases to trial without the existence of insurance or unless they believe they will be able to adequately collect for their client.