Insurance Company Secrets
Did you know that in Florida, there is no such thing as an “accident report.” They are called Crash Reports, and the State of Florida officially re-named them crash reports in 1998. The reason they are called Crash Reports is because accidents can all be avoided if people take precautions and are careful. Therefore, there really are no accidents, only people who are driving in an unsafe manner, thus causing a crash.
Why does the law prevent the Jury from seeing the Crash Report? Florida Statute §316.066 basically says that in order to encourage people to tell the truth to the police officer at a crash, if they admit any wrongdoing, then it should not be used against them later in a trial. So, to help the State of Florida more effectively investigate crashes, juries are not permitted to see the crash report. “No such report or statement shall be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal.” §316.066(7).
Who was cited in the crash? Why is this kept from the jury? This is another Florida law, §316.650(9) which states: “Such citations shall not be admissible evidence in any trial, except when used as evidence of falsification, forgery, uttering, fraud, or perjury….”
Insurance is hidden from the jury. Florida Stat. §627.4136(3), entitled Nonjoinder of Insurers, prevents an injured person from joining the negligent party’s insurance company in a lawsuit against the negligent party. The intent of the nonjoinder statute is to ensure that the availability of insurance has no influence on the jury’s determination of damages. Any mention of insurance during the trial is prohibited.
Ever wonder who pays the lawyer for the defendant? The negligent party’s insurance company selects and pays the defense lawyer. Very rarely does the insurance company allow the defendant any say in who defends him or her. Typically, lawyers who defend bad drivers are actually employees of the insurance company. Many insurance companies, such as Geico, State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive have created “in house” lawyers. These lawyers are employees of and paid by the insurance company. No matter the price of the lawyer or the costs of the defense, the negligent party does not pay-his or her insurance company does.
Have you ever wondered if the parties tried to settle the case before a trial? The answer is almost always yes. Before a suit is filed, our office will collect all of our client’s medical records and bills, lost wage information, and review such factors as how the crash affects our client’s activities of daily living, pain and suffering, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life** any important information about the fault and damages, and send a letter to the insurance company for the negligent driver or negligent doctor, and suggest that the matter be resolved. If they can’t agree and a suit is brought, the judge usually orders the parties to “Mediation” which is a confidential settlement conference. This allows the parties to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and try and resolve the matter. Mediation is a great tool when both sides try to settle the case in good faith. And to encourage settlement, everyone agrees that any discussions about settlement are confidential, and cannot be brought into court. Sometimes certain insurance companies have taken a position that they will not negotiate, they will never offer money, and they would rather force their doctor to trial, and the injured person as well. These unfortunate situations are quite common. Many insurance companies know that if they play hardball, they will scare many people away, and they win the benefit of the people who are afraid to go to trial.
The jury may think that since your health insurance company paid your medical bills, that you should not recover that money as part of the compensation for your losses. But the jury probably does not know that your health insurance company has a “Right of Subrogation” This means that since you were hurt by the fault of another, and since your health insurance company paid your medical bills, they are entitled to be paid back from your recovery.