Insurance in Civil Lawsuits
Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 at 9:35 pm
An insurance company is involved in almost every lawsuit filed, but juries don’t get know about it. Hiding the insurance policies from juries is a Texas rule (one of our neighboring states not only tells juries about insurance, but actually allows injured parties to sue the defendant’s insurance company directly).
The Texas rule’s intention is to keep the jury focused only the liability of the parties and not be concerned about existence of large insurance policy covering the negligence of the defendant. Some people believe the rule is intended to protect the defendant because if juries knew that insurance covered the lawsuit they would be more likely to award damages.
If insurance is mentioned or considered at trial, it can be easy grounds for mistrial and the case will need to start over with a new jury. But that doesn’t mean savvy jurors aren’t wondering about insurance anyways. In fact, during jury selection, many prospective jurors wonder aloud about an insurance company’s involvement in the case. Asking about insurance during selection is the absolute quickest way to get the attorneys to stop talking. Once the magic “i” word comes out of a potential juror’s mouth, the attorneys clam up and turn with a pleading look to the judge. The judge just says something generic like, “please just consider the facts and evidence before you and do not consider the existence of insurance in your deliberations.” Many jurors probably don’t care one way or another if a defendant had an insurance policy, but it makes a difference when a defendant argues that a large verdict will ‘hurt’ the corporation when an insurance policy will be paying out the money instead of it.