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Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys

Can information about a defendant’s insurance coverage be admitted in court?

When a personal injury case goes to trial, the main question is usually who's to blame for the accident and how much the victim should receive in compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering. It's up to the jury to listen to each side and make a determination of fault and monetary damages. While evidence from the crash scene, witness testimony, medical records, police testimony, and much more may be presented to the jury, one fact that cannot be brought up at all is whether the defendant is insured and how much insurance he carries. In both Kansas and Missouri, civil law forbids entering proof of liability insurance into evidence.

Why Insurance Coverage Is Inadmissible

When two parties involved in a car crash cannot come to an agreement over who's at fault and who should pay damages, the case may end up in court. In a personal injury trial, it's up to the jury to decide, based on the evidence presented, who's liable for the crash, how much harm has been caused, and how much the victim, or plaintiff, should receive in compensation. The court believes that the decision shouldn't be influenced by whether the defendant has liability insurance coverage or how much coverage he or she has.

The court goes to great lengths to prevent any mention of insurance during a personal injury trial. In fact, mention of insurance by anyone in the proceeding could lead to a mistrial. The concern is that juries will award higher amounts to the plaintiff if they know it will be covered by insurance, or won't award a large sum if they know the defendant has to pay out-of-pocket.

The court holds that these circumstances are irrelevant to the guilt or innocence of the defendant. It's well known, however, that juries speculate about the likelihood of the defendant having insurance and that the speculation may influence their decision. Defense attorneys may play to this bias by presenting information about the defendant’s occupation and lifestyle. Their hope is the jury assumes the defendant does not have insurance—or not much, anyway—and won't award a large sum of money.crumpled car in crash

All Kansas and Missouri Drivers Should Have Insurance

The reality is that most people who wind up in court over a car accident have at least some insurance. The plaintiff may even carry an uninsured motorist policy that pays out if the defendant cannot. Juries in both Kansas and Missouri will be aware of the minimum coverage requirements for each state and likely have these figures in mind.

Minimum auto insurance coverage in Kansas is as follows:

  • $10,000 per accident in property damage
  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
  • $25,000 per person for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
  • $50,000 per accident for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
  • $4,500 in personal injury protection

Missouri has similar minimum insurance requirements. Missouri drivers must carry the following:

  • $10,000 per accident for property damage
  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury

Anyone who has been in a car accident knows these minimum coverage amounts don't go very far to cover serious or catastrophic injuries. If a jury member is aware of these requirements and is led to believe that this is all the defendant has, he or she may be more likely to find in favor of the defendant, or to limit the amount of compensation awarded, despite the true financial needs of the plaintiff.

An Experienced Car Accident Attorney Will Protect You From These Tactics

As the injured victim, when you're represented by an experienced car accident attorney, the defense attorney will be less able to sway the jury by hinting at the defendant’s lack of insurance coverage. Never take on an injury case like this alone. Call the experienced car accident attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys today.

 

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