Alabama consumers who have been injured in a car wreck or a truck wreck often assume, quite naturally, that the jury will know that the defendant who caused the wreck and caused the injuries has insurance through State Farm, AllState, etc. The jury, after all, knows that the injured victim has health insurance such as Blue Cross but it is quite surprising to find out that the jury can never know that the defendant has insurance.
The reason that is always given for this rule is that a jury might decide against the defendant, not based on the facts but on whether the defendant has insurance, figuring “Well, here she has insurance, so it won’t really hurt them if we give a verdict.” We have never met anybody with this actual mindset as everybody understands if you award money when the plaintiff is not entitled to it, then that can have a bad impact upon the system and insurance rates. But what happens is since the jury does not know about the insurance, they look at somebody and oftentimes they will take the opposite approach of assuming that the person cannot pay and therefore they do not find against the defendant even if the defendant is at fault.
Trial judges do not have any discretion in this matter and until the law is changed, this is the way it will be. If you have been in a automobile accident or in a truck wreck or otherwise suffered a personal injury, particularly if it is due to the negligence of an individual, then you do need to keep this in mind as you are evaluating potential settlement offers.
We will continue to explore various parts of how a trial works in a personal injury case, but this is a question which is raised quite often by clients and jurors after a trial and everybody is surprised that insurance cannot be mentioned. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about a car wreck or a truck wreck case, if you are not already represented by a lawyer.