Does a Car Accident Defendant Have Insurance at Trial?
In almost every case the car crash defendant—who is represented by defense attorneys—does have insurance. The reason you can be confident a car crash defendant has insurance at trial is because it is very expensive to hire defense attorneys, take depositions, and hire expert witnesses. You may even see the insurance adjuster sitting in the back of the courtroom. An obligation of car crash automobile insurers is to defend the accused at-fault driver. However, a car crash victim cannot say in trial that the defendant has automobile insurance. The auto crash victim cannot even say the word “insurance” to the jury. Why is that?
It is about money. Lobbyists for the insurance industry many years ago put together a law (known as Florida Statute §637.4136) which Florida legislators passed and which prohibited the mention of insurance in a car crash trial. Insurance companies did not and do not want juries to know that a car crash defendant has car insurance to pay a claim because the jury would then take sympathy for the at-fault driver out of the equation. Stated another way, the insurance companies understood a jury would be more likely to award a higher verdict if the jury knew the at-fault driver had insurance. Right, but how does it matter in practicality?
In Florida—a retirement state—there are many older drivers on the road. An injured claimant may have to ask the jury to award a verdict amount against an elderly driver, and the jury can be hesitant to award a large verdict—even if warranted–when the jury is uncertain whether the at-fault driver has to pay the verdict. In this respect the auto insurer gets to hide behind the at-fault person and wait to see what is the outcome.
Is the auto insurance carrier involved in the automobile crash case?
Yes, quite. The auto insurance carrier is very involved in the automobile crash case. It is very likely that the defense attorneys are not only hired by the auto insurer, but that the attorneys are employees of the insurer. The auto insurer also decides whether the claim would be settled or not—regardless of the wishes of the at-fault insured driver. The insurer also hires expert witnesses—and some of these expert witnesses make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year working for just a few auto insurers–to testify against the auto crash claimant.
So “Yes”, the auto accident defendant has auto insurance at trial.
Remember, in almost every automobile crash case the at-fault driver does have auto insurance. And, the automobile insurance company is really running the show behind the scenes: employing the defense attorneys, telling the defense attorneys what to do on the case, telling the defense attorneys whether they can resolve the case, and is paying a lot of money to expert witnesses to testify against the injured claimant.