Austin: (512) 562-7000
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What the Jury Hears About Insurance

Generally, nothing.

Rule 411 of the Texas Rules of Evidence prohibits, except for a few limited exceptions, a jury from finding out that insurance exists to cover an accident.  This is a pretty universal rule in every Court and every State.  However, the vast majority of personal injury accident cases that proceed to trial are covered by liability insurance. 

The only instances where you will hear about a liability insurance carrier in a personal injury case is a UM coverage case where the Plaintiff is suing his/her own insurance company.  In all other personal injury cases, the court caption will merely be the Plaintiff vs. the person (Defendant) who injured them, with no mention of the insurance company that is covering the Defendant.  Further, there will be no testimony or evidence given at trial referencing any liability insurance.

So why is that?

The stated justification for this rule is that there is concern that a jury will be more likely to award an unfairly high verdict if they know that there is insurance coverage.  However, if this is to be taken to be true, then the logical counterargument is that if juries think that there is no insurance coverage available, then they will be more likely to award an unfairly low verdict.  Further, when the jury does not know that insurance coverage is available, it is the system showing our distrust in jurors and is executing a deception on the jury.

This distrust in the jury assumes the worst about juries; that juries are willing to ignore facts and evidence and rely on unfair considerations.  A valid comparison to this theory is that people are more likely to steal from a large grocery store chain than from a mom and pop independent store.  Both theories unfairly assume that people are inherently unethical or immoral.  If there is trust in juries and the jury system, then such presumptions cannot be made.

So if you are serving on a jury, understand that even though you will hear nothing about it, insurance coverage probably exists for this accident and it is an insurance company controlling the litigation and paying the claim, not an individual person.

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