When it's your turn for jury duty, there are a few things you may want to know before you get seated on a case. David Greene, from the law firm of Greene & Phillips, shed some light on some of these areas.
Below is a list of questions and answers discussed on Studio10.
You say that there is important information that the jury is not allowed to know in a trial. What is that?
If you are on a jury of a civil trial where one party is seeking damages against another person or business. You are not allowed to know if there is insurance available to pay for those damages.
Why is this important information to know?
As a jury member you may see the defendant and sympathise with him. You may not want to make him or it may look like he can't him pay tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars even if the evidence is clear that that amount of money is what it would take to pay for their negligence. In reality 99% of the time, the defendant will actually have to pay nothing. It's his insurance company that will pay for all of it, and you as a juror is not allowed to know that and by extension not allowed to know how much coverage is the defendant has.
Does anyone besides the defendant know if there is insurance?
The defendant, his lawyers, the judge, and the victim's lawyer all know if there is insurance and often exactly how much insurance is available to cover the cost of the accident or injury.
You say that the defendant's lawyer often works for the insurance agency. How does that work?
It's actually rare that in a civil case the defendant will hire his own lawyer. Most of the time the defendant lawyer is actually hired and paid for by the big insurance company trying to make sure they have to pay as little as possible on the case.
Why is jury not allowed to know if there is insurance?
The insurance companies have a lot of sway in the state legislature, They are out to save money in the long run and over the years they've put pressure to make that the law favors them.
This doesn't seem fair to victims of accidents...
It's a problem that we are seeing more and more that people who through no fault of their own are in accidents causing horrible injuries, yet the person responsible for the accident and his insurance company get away without paying what they are supposed to pay because a jury member may have pity on the defendant.
Greene & Phillips
50 North Florida Street
Mobile, AL 36607
Sponsored by: Greene & Phillips
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