In nearly every personal injury and wrongful death case, it is the insurance company that is responsible for payment of damages. This includes automobile accident cases, slip and fall cases, dog bite cases, and even medical malpractice cases. In nearly all of these cases, the injured plaintiffs are required to name as defendants the negligent persons or entities only; California law does not permit injured plaintiffs or their lawyers to name the insurance companies directly.
The rule of law that almost every judge reads to the jury before a personal injury or wrongful death trial is as follows (CACI Jury Instruction No. 105):
You must not consider whether any of the parties in this case has insurance. The presence or absence of insurance is totally irrelevant. You must decide this case based on the law and the evidence.
Insurance defense lawyers will often request this jury instruction because — they argue — evidence that the named defendant was insured is both irrelevant and prejudicial to the defendant. Newmann v. Bishop (1976) 59 Cal.App.3d 451, 469. Unfortunately, CA evidence code section 1155 supports this argument: “Evidence that a person was, at the time a harm was suffered by another, insured wholly or partially against loss arising from liability for that harm is inadmissible to prove negligence or other wrongdoing.” Insurance defense lawyers then imply during the trial that there is no insurance and the personal injury lawyer is going after the defendant’s personal assets.
Most personal injury cases that end up going to trial do not settle because of the insurance companies’ unreasonably low offers and hard-ball tactics. The insurance companies then hire skilled defense lawyers who are trained to give the impression that a large judgment will financially ruin the defendant, even though the truth is that the insurance company pays the settlement or trial judgment. The insurance companies know that if jurors believe that the defendant does not have insurance, there will be an unfair compromise in the amount of compensation to the plaintiff. This saves the insurance companies money and increases their profits.
The value of your personal injury claim is based on your losses from the defendant’s negligence. Your losses include medical expenses, lost wages, and human losses such as pain and suffering. The defendant’s ability to pay is irrelevant because it is the insurance company that will pay the settlement or trial judgment.
If you suffered an injury or loss from an auto accident, slip and fall, dog bite, or medical neglect, schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer who has experience winning trials. A Los Angeles Trial Lawyer knows how to overcome the insurance defense lawyer tactics and get the fair compensation that you deserve, either by settlement or trial judgment.