“Insurance” Is Not Necessarily A Dirty Word In St. Petersburg Lawsuits

Drivers in St. Petersburg are already aware that to be considered “street legal” for driving Florida’s highways and streets, you must have some kind of insurance. Florida is one of the few states in the country that follow the “no-fault” concept of insurance.

This means that in the event of an accident. Florida drivers with the legally required insurance will automatically receive up to $10000 in compensation from their insurance company. Who is at fault does not matter in this instance; the money will always be there, which is why this insurance is described as “no-fault.” However, in those cases where the cost of total expenses isn’t sufficient, or the injury doesn’t take place in an automobile accident, or the responsible party denies any fault, it may be necessary for the injured person to get a final verdict settled in court.

Ironically, even though a court case will be resolved to compel an insurance company to pay out the compensation, the insurer can’t be named or even mentioned in court, especially when a jury is present.

Companies Claimed Bias

The concept of “insurance” is a delicate one when it comes to actual activity in a court of law, especially when pertaining to personal injury lawsuits. There came a point when insurance companies realized that most jurors were either indifferent to or actively hostile against insurance companies, which tended to color their perceptions when reaching a final verdict. When jurors realized that an insurance company would be responsible for paying out compensation, not a private individual, they tended to settle on the maximum amount if they found in favor of the plaintiff. The reason for this was simple; they disliked insurance companies, assuming they had more than adequate amounts of money to cover the payment and that it would be unlikely to affect their finances severely.

Because of this, insurance companies consulted with state lawmakers, and eventually, a new law was passed that is followed to this day. When a lawsuit occurs seeking personal injury compensation, only the defendant is named, and there can be no mention in court that the defendant is insured.

Actual Court Practice

This is where insurance and its presence in court exist in a strange place. The average American knows that other Americans will have insurance, especially automobile insurance if they are legally driving on American streets. However, in court, the lawyers must pretend that someone being sued is uninsured. If a plaintiff is suing someone for personal injury, that defendant is the only name that appears on the case, and the plaintiff’s lawyers must point to the person and never mention they have insurance. In the same way, the defendant’s lawyers can act as if that person’s own personal finances are on the line in the case since the existence of an insurance company can never be acknowledged.

This puts everyone in an awkward space since the jurors know a person is likely insured but must go along with the charade that the person has no insurance and is being personally sued. However, whether people agree with this decision or not, it is the law in Florida and must be abided by when in court.

The Word “Insurance” Is Still Permissible

This is where some younger lawyers are sometimes too enthusiastic about their court proceedings and have occasionally been reprimanded by judges. Because insurance company representation can’t be declared in a lawsuit trial, some lawyers have mistakenly taken that to the extreme that even mentioning the word “insurance” in a trial is forbidden.

There has been more than one lawsuit incident in Florida where a witness on the stand mentioned an expected activity, such as, “I took photos of the car damage for insurance purposes.” The defendant’s lawyer asked the judge for the lawsuit to be declared a mistrial because the word “insurance” was spoken out loud. The judge, however, ignored this request and reminded the lawyer that insurance representation, not the word “insurance” itself, was the legal issue.

If you or someone you know has been injured and is trying to get the compensation owed for recovery, don’t try to tackle this complex legal problem alone. Talk to a personal injury lawyer and ensure you’ve got an expert on your side guiding you through a lawsuit's sometimes puzzling legal environment.