Will a jury in a Florida personal injury lawsuit know whether the other driver has insurance coverage?
Many people view jury duty as a burden, but it is a crucial part of the justice system in America. In Florida, the jury in a civil case usually consists of six people. After the evidence is presented, the jury decides if the defendant should be held accountable for damages caused to the plaintiff, and if so, how much money should be awarded. The jury is presented with the extent of the injuries, medical expenses, lost wages due to the accident, as well as the pain and suffering experienced as a result of the accident. The jury will consider all of the information in order to determine the compensation that the plaintiff will receive. The jury has a huge responsibility to deliver justice to the parties so it is important that all the information provided to them is factual and complete. However, some information is withheld from the jury in a personal injury case.
Information Withheld from a Jury
In Florida, certain information is withheld from the jury in a personal injury case, including the insurance coverage of the defendant. After an automobile accident, the injured party is able to sue the driver who caused the accident. However, instead of dealing directly with the defendant, the insurance company will hire a lawyer to defend the at-fault driver. During the trial, the plaintiff (injured party) sues the defendant (the at-fault driver). If the defendant has insurance coverage, the representative for the defendant will be an attorney from the defendant’s insurance company. The jury is not allowed to know any information including if the defendant has insurance coverage, the type of insurance coverage, or the amount of coverage. The reason for this is to protect the insurance company. Jurors usually have more empathy for individuals rather than insurance companies. Therefore, if they know that a defendant has insurance coverage and are told the amount of the coverage, they may be more inclined to award higher compensation to the plaintiff.
Traffic and Accident History
The jury is also blind to the traffic and accident history of the defendant. They are not able to know if the defendant received a ticket for the accident or typically will not know if the defendant has caused other car accidents in the past. However, if the plaintiff has been involved in automobile accidents in the past, the defense attorneys will likely bring this information to the attention of the jury in efforts to attribute injuries to previous accidents. Insurance companies almost always try to avoid responsibility by arguing that previous accidents were the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
If the Amount of Damages Exceeds Insurance Coverage
If the jury determines that the amount of damages exceeds the amount of available insurance coverage, then the at-fault driver may be held personally liable for the damages awarded that exceed the insurance policy limits. However, the insurance company is sometimes held liable for these “excess” damages when the insurer has acted in bad faith.
An experienced lawyer, like a car accident lawyer from Jeff Murphy Law, will be able to predict how a jury might view the case. If you are involved in an automobile accident, talk to an experienced lawyer to increase the chances of receiving the compensation you deserve for the damages as a result of your accident.