The Disclosure of Insurance at Trial

by Neil B. Nicholson on Dec. 22, 2021

Accident & Injury 

Summary: This article discusses whether a jury hears evidence on the defendant's insurance coverage in a car accident case.

The rules of evidence prohibit either party from introducing into evidence the existence or nonexistence of insurance coverage. This includes motor vehicle insurance, liability insurance, and health insurance. A jury cannot draw inferences from the failure of the parties’ to mention the existence or nonexistence of insurance coverage.

In determining damages, a jury may not consider or speculate on whether the defendant is insured or has the ability to pay an award. A jury’s responsibility is to determine damages in accordance with the law as the judge explains to the jury, without regard to the defendant’s financial circumstances.

A jury may not consider or speculate on whether the plaintiff has received benefits from other sources in connection with his/her injuries. This includes health insurance coverage and any other insurance benefits. The law does not permit a jury to make any deduction from the plaintiff’s damages to reflect benefits which may have been received from other sources. This is so because the plaintiff may be required to repay such other sources from any award made in the case. A jury’s duty is to determine damages based only on the evidence presented at trial and the legal instructions which the judge give to the jury.

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