As I prepare a case for jury trial, I am bothered by a deception the law plays on juries.
In an injury case for money damages, the victim’s lawyer is not allowed to tell jurors that the defendant has insurance coverage.
To protect the insurance industry and its obscene profits, the law wrongfully excludes that important fact from evidence. The word “insurance” is not to be mentioned by the victim’s lawyer, except in the rarest of circumstances. And yet jurors must wonder why nobody is saying anything about the obvious– insurance!
Injury cases call for someone to say something about whether the defendant has, or does not have, insurance coverage. It’s a big deal. The danger with saying nothing is that jurors might be misled into thinking the defendant ( who is often careless and not criminal) could be paying for a mistake the rest of his life.
By restricting the jury’s knowledge, the case looks like a dispute between two individuals, when the truth is radically different. The real defendant is a multi-billion dollar insurance company which can well afford to pay full, fair and reasonable damages to injury victims.
This does not sit well with me. I say let it all in and trust the jury to do the right thing.
Sadly, there are times when the law protects powerful corporations. By giving insurance companies the unusual protection of hiding, the jury is never told that the defendant’s legal bill and any award of money damages will be paid by insurance.
I am reminded of the quote in Charles Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist: ” If the law supposes that… the law is a ass– a idiot.” Sometimes you wonder who writes these laws, but one thing’s for sure, the judges and lawyers are duty-bound to follow them.
Fortunately, the jury ( which is not allowed to know the whole truth) is usually experienced enough to figure out the defendant has insurance coverage.
Keep your strength,