California Law Does Not Allow Attorneys to Name Insurance Company in Personal Injury Lawsuit as a Defendant
Did you know that CA Law does not permit a lawyer to name an insurance company as a defendant? In personal injury case, (a car crash, slip and fall, dog bite) if the Defendant has insurance, then the insurance company is responsible for payment of damages, even when they are not a named party. California law is that as a rule, evidence that the defendant has insurance is both irrelevant and prejudicial to the defendant. (Neumann v. Bishop (1976) 59 Cal.App.3d 451,469 [130 Cal.Rptr. 786].)
Many times after a jury trial because of this law, some jurors are wondering whether the wrongful party, the defendant that caused the injuries, had insurance. Because the jurors are not allowed to know that the defendant had insurance, many times the jury’s award to the injured person is less than what it really should have been. I have heard jurors say they were worried that the verdict might have financial consequences for the named Defendant. In fact, if there was no insurance companies, like State Farm, Mercury and Farmers, hiring experts and having their in-house attorneys, like Michael Maguire & Associates, Silva, Clausen, Raffalow & Bretoi and Law Offices of Andrew Macrae deny responsibility, defend the negligence of their clients and defame the injured Plaintiff, then there would be very few personal injury trials. If someone causes a car crash and does not have insurance then most people have uninsured motorist coverage that will result in the injured person making a claim against their own insurance. Uninsured motorist claims if not resolved, proceed to a binding arbitration, not a jury trial.
Many consumers and their attorneys believe that California law should be changed and that the jurors that decide a case should be told whether a Defendant had insurance for an injury incident. We all know that our California Financial Responsibility law requires all drivers to have insurance. Mortgage companies require homeowners to carry homeowner’s insurance. Businesses are prudent enough to either have insurance or have enough money to pay for their negligence. Why should the fact that the Defendant had insurance be withheld from the jury?