When someone does something wrong and causes you harm and injury, you make
a claim under that person's insurance policy to recover money as compensation
for your losses. The most common example is in car accident cases. If
you get hit by someone while driving, you make a claim against the other
driver's insurance company to recover the losses you suffered.
You present proof of your loss to the insurance company, then they decide
how much money they want to offer you. In deciding how much money they
will offer, one of the things insurance companies do is look at what the
historical jury verdicts have been in similar cases in the county where
you will have to bring suit if the case doesn't settle. If those verdicts
are historically low, you will probably get a low offer. If they're
high, you will probably get a higher offer.
Here's the kicker, thanks to the lobbying efforts of insurance companies
and their lawyers, they have been able to enact laws preventing juries
from hearing evidence that the wrongdoer in a personal injury lawsuit,
such as a
car crash case, is covered by insurance. So, without knowing that the defendant
has insurance, juries often give little or no money to personal injury victims.
What happens because of this is that settlement offers to personal injury
victims get lower and lower, to the point of being absolutely unfair,
all because of the law the insurance companies bought preventing evidence
of insurance coverage.
Next time you have jury duty in a
personal injury case, remember that the defendant most certainly has insurance to cover
the damages even though you don't hear it in trial. This helps ensure
fair verdicts and just results not only in the trial you are in, but also
for the public in general.