When it’s your turn for jury duty, there are a few things you may want to know before you get seated on a case. J. David Greene recently joined Joe Emer on Studio 10 Legal Matters Segment to shed some light on this important topic.
If you are selected for a jury of a civil trial where one party is seeking damages against another person or business, one important piece of information you are not allowed to know is if there is insurance available to pay for those damages.
Why is this important?
As a jury member, you may see the defendant and sympathize with them. You may not want to make them pay tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if the evidence is clear that that amount of money is what it would take to pay for their negligence. In reality, 99% of the time, the defendant will actually have to pay nothing. It’s their insurance company that will pay for the damages, and you as a juror are not allowed to know that, and by extension not allowed to know how much coverage the defendant has.
The defendant, his lawyers, the judge, and the victim’s lawyer all know if there is insurance and often exactly how much insurance is available to cover the cost of the accident or injury.
It’s actually rare that in a civil case the defendant will hire his own lawyer. Most of the time the defendant lawyer is actually hired and paid for by the big insurance company trying to make sure they have to pay as little as possible on the case.
Why is a jury not allowed to know if there is insurance?
The insurance companies have a lot of sway in the state legislature. They are out to save money in the long run, and over the years they’ve put pressure on lawmakers to pass laws in their favor. It’s a problem that we often see. People, who through no fault of their own, are in accidents causing terrible injuries, yet the person responsible for the accident and his insurance company get away without paying what they are supposed to pay, because a jury member may have pity on the defendant.
If you have any questions about how all this works, please feel free to call us at 300-2000 or stop by our office anytime at 51 North Florida Street.