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Evidence of Insurance

In Florida, there is the unusual rule that it is not permissible for a jury to learn that the defendants have insurance to pay for the damages the jury awards to the plaintiff.

Although Florida is in the extreme minority of states in which a jury cannot be told that there is insurance, the law is based on the belief that juries cannot be told that there is insurance or how much insurance exists because the jury’s verdict may be influenced by the amount of insurance. Apparently, the Florida Legislature does not believe the concept that by creating the wrong impression that there is no insurance, a jury will not be also wrongfully influenced.

Most juries already know or believe that there is insurance since they rationally conclude that the plaintiffs and the defendants would not be able to afford taking a case to trial unless there was insurance to pay for the jury award. In fact, 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.

Once the jury renders its verdict in favor of a plaintiff, the judge will then enter a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant’s insurance company will then pay the amount of the judgment for the plaintiff up to the defendant’s insurance policy limits. Typically, the insurance policy limits for defendants are quite high; otherwise it would be too costly and risky for a plaintiff to take a case to a jury trial if the defendant’s insurance policy limits were not high enough to pay the amount awarded by the jury.

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