Why can’t a jury hear about insurance at trial?

When you sue the driver whose recklessness caused your car accident, you are really suing an insurance company. If the driver is found to be responsible for the accident and he has insurance, it is the insurance policy that will pay the damages. This is true even if the case goes to a jury trial. The defendant will be represented by an attorney appointed by the insurance company and the insurance company will pay the attorney fee. If the jury finds that the defendant was at fault in the accident and awards the plaintiff a sum of money, the insurance company will pay the plaintiff.

However, under the rules of evidence for the state of Tennessee, none of this can be mentioned during the trial. Any information regarding an insurance company is inadmissible in a Tennessee courtroom.

What This Means for the Plaintiff

Two lawyers in front of a judge

Car accident cases usually go to trial because the at-fault driver’s insurance company won’t settle the claim. This means that the victim has already fought with the insurance company and has either been denied any money or has been offered less than what they are entitled to. The next course of action in this situation is to go to trial. However, the attorney for the plaintiff will not be able to mention the problems his client has had with the insurance company in court, nor will he be able to sway the jury by explaining that the defendant will not have to pay anything out of pocket. This rule makes it much harder for a victim to win compensation and is one reason you should never go to court against an insurance company without an attorney representing you.

Reasons for the Rule

Tennessee has this rule primarily to prevent jury bias. If a jury learns that a defendant is covered by insurance, they may be more likely to find fault and award damages. On the other hand, if they learn the defendant does not have insurance, they may relax their standards in determining fault because they sympathize with the defendant. If a jury member were to learn that she is represented by the same insurance company as the defendant, she may worry that her premiums will go up if the company has to pay out on this policy and this could affect her decision. Likewise, if a jury member has had a negative experience with the insurance company on trial, he may find against them out of spite.

The purpose of a jury trial in a car accident is simply to determine whether the defendant is at fault for the accident and, if so, how much he should be required to pay in damages. Tennessee’s rules of evidence ensure that insurance issues do not play a part in this decision.

You Need an Experienced Car Accident Trial Lawyer on Your Side

While this rule doesn’t always work against the plaintiff, it can complicate a case. An experienced car accident attorney will know how to present your case to your best advantage, regardless of the mention of insurance coverage. Call GriffithLaw at 615-807-7900 now to discuss the details of your particular case. We are here to help.

John Griffith
Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney