Ever since you were young, you were always taught that our legal system is based on “truth, justice and the American way”, right? Our judicial system was founded on the idea that the jury, and the jury alone, is the best decider of truth. Jurors at trial are supposed to be told “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, right? But what happens if jurors are not told “the whole truth”? In Florida, there are two laws that do not allow jurors to hear “the whole truth”.
First, our law says a jury is NOT permitted to learn that the Defendant (the party being sued) has insurance to pay for the damages that the jury awards to the injured victim except in very rare circumstances. Insurance companies have influenced politicians to pass this law because such companies fear that if jurors knew the truth about insurance, then the jury’s verdict would be larger. That is because most juries are reluctant to award a large verdict against a “regular” person like themselves but are less concerned about the impact on multibillion dollar corporations like insurance companies. It is extremely seldom that a case is taken to a jury trial with no insurance to cover the jury award. The costs of taking a case to trial make it almost impossible to take a case to trial if a Defendant does not have insurance to pay the result. If the insurance company would simply agree to pay what the case is worth, then cases would never have to go to Court. But when an insurance company refuses to pay what is fair, then the injured victim has no choice but to fight in Court. Yet those same insurance companies that forced a trial to occur then hide behind their client without any reference whatever to the insurance company being the real puppetmaster pulling the strings.
Secondly, insurance companies influenced our politicians to pass another special law to prevent jurors from knowing “the whole truth” in motor vehicle accident cases. Did you know that jurors are never told that the person being sued is the one who received the ticket for the accident? Insurance companies do not want jurors to know that the person being sued was the one who was found by the investigating officer to be at fault. More commonly, the Defendant, and his/her attorneys deny responsibility for causing an accident, even when the DEFENDANT RECEIVED THE TICKET AND NEVER FOUGHT THE CHARGES! Is that fair??? No!!! But that special law permits some Defendants to deny responsibility even in the most obvious of cases, all in an effort to avoid fully compensating the injured victim. It can be difficult for jurors to come to the right decision in determining who is at fault when the “whole truth” isn’t presented to them. Despite these two unfairly restrictive laws, the attorneys at Jeffrey M. Byrd, P.A. make sure that juries hear all the other evidence a jury is permitted to hear so that “justice” is hopefully served despite these insurance-friendly laws. Often, independent witness testimony, photographs, and accident reconstruction may be necessary when Defendants will not admit what they already know: that they are at fault for the crash being litigated, and the insurance company must pay for the resulting damages.