After practicing personal injury for almost 3 decades, it is clear to me that there are many non-lawyers who do not understand which evidence may be introduced in front of the jury and what is likely to be excluded from them. This article will highlight some of the more prominent misconceptions about what actually comes into evidence in a car accident lawsuit in the state of Texas.
INSURANCE COVERAGE GENERALLY INADMISSIBLE
The general rule is that in personal injury cases insurance coverage should not be presented to the jury as they may be compelled to award higher damages to the personal injury victim if they knew that the insurance carrier was going to pay the tab and not the defendant. While in theory this makes sense, and in practice juries are much smarter than anyone gives them credit for and usually understand that the defendant is covered by liability insurance. Nevertheless, the fact that liability insurance will pay the award is not something a Texas jury is likely to hear in a Texas personal injury case!
In short, most of the time insurance coverage whether it applies or not is going to be inadmissible in the trial of car accident case.
DEFENSE ATTORNEYS MAY BE EMPLOYEES OF THE INSURER
Likewise, many larger insurance carriers have gone to in-house employee attorneys to represent the individual driver sued for causing a car accident. Although many states feel that this is an inherent conflict, and that the employee of an insurance company may put their employer’s interests above those of their client, Texas has no such concerns. The fact that the defense lawyer is an employee of the insurance company should not come into evidence in the case. But, I believe the arrangement is an obvious conflict of interest and should not be allowed without a client waiver.
PORTIONS OF THE ACCIDENT REPORT
Parts of the accident or crash report prepared by the police officers is likely to be excluded from evidence in a majority of simple car accident crashes. Generally, the opinions of the officer regarding the cause of the crash can in some instances be excluded based upon the rules regarding expert witness opinions. Usually the admissibility or inadmissibility turns on the work done by the officer in reconstruction of the crash and the officers training to be able to form reasonable on reliable conclusions. Click here for how to get a Houston crash report!
Generally, collateral sources such as health insurance are not admissible in a personal injury case. Recent requirements of “tort reform” make it harder to keep all references to health insurance out of the jury’s presence. In any case, today’s juror will likely be well aware of the potential for health insurance paid some of the bills. The travesty of a defendant getting off without paying full costs of care, is that an injury victim had to pay the health insurance costs and the negligent party gets credit for it in some areas.
Personal injury and defense attorneys must follow the court’s guidance and evidentiary rules when presenting or defending a case. While it is not the intention of the attorneys to hide any information from the jury, the rules require certain items be excluded from consideration of the evidence.
Nevertheless, a Texas jury in 2021 will likely use common sense to determine the outcome of the verdict even if some of the evidence is admissible.
If you have been injured in an accident get the best accident attorney near me, call us to request a free case evaluation for your accident. (281) 587-1111.