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Why plaintiffs are not allowed to talk about insurance at trial

Why plaintiffs are not allowed to talk about insurance at trial
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s the other driver’s fault, and their insurance company refuses to pay your claim, you may be forced to file a lawsuit and take your case to trial.

But you won’t be suing the insurance company who refused to pay a valid claim – as far as the jury knows, you are suing the nice elderly grandmother, the single mom who is struggling to make ends meet, or the college student who is living in a dorm room. None of whom could afford to pay a judgment against them…

It’s fraud – although the defendant’s insurance company is responsible for paying the verdict and the defendant’s insurance company is responsible for you being in trial in the first place, plaintiffs’ lawyers, defense attorneys, and judges must lie by omission, never mentioning the insurance company and refusing to answer juror’s questions about insurance…


Why aren’t plaintiffs allowed to talk about insurance at trial?

It’s prohibited by court rule, statute, and SC appellate opinions. SC Rule of Evidence 411, “Liability Insurance,” says:

Evidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon the issue whether the person acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of insurance against liability when offered for another purpose, such as proof of agency, ownership, or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness.

Although the Rule allows evidence of insurance to come in for another purpose “such as proof of agency, ownership, or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness,” it is uncommon for this situation to arise or for the court to approve it – any mention of insurance at trial in a car accident case is greeted with shock and horror and will often result in a mistrial…

SC Code Section 38-77-250 also prohibits any mention of insurance in a car accident trial. This statute requires the insurance company to provide information about insurance to the plaintiff’s attorney upon request, including 1) the name of the insurer, 2) the name of the insured, and 3) the policy limits.

It then goes on to clarify that the fact a driver is insured and what their policy limits are is not admissible at trial:

(C) The information provided to a claimant or his attorney as required by subsection (A) of this section shall not create a waiver of any defenses to coverage available to the insurer and shall not be admissible in evidence.

Why do we have laws and court rules that prohibit talking about insurance at trial in a car accident case?

The rule helps insurance companies, and it allows insurance defense attorneys to pretend, without ever saying it out loud, that their client is the at-fault driver and that the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying any verdict.

We have rules and laws that protect insurance companies because insurance companies have a well-funded and effective lobby – the money flows from insurance companies to politicians and corporate defense firms; therefore, politicians, attorneys, and some judges bend over backward to protect insurance companies….

Why Isn’t the Insurance Company Named as a Defendant?

Nearly every car accident case that goes to trial is a case against an insurance company.

Many at-fault drivers would accept liability and pay for the damage they caused if they could afford it. Instead, they must rely on their insurance company to pay for the accident.

They paid their premiums faithfully for years and years in anticipation of a car accident where they would be liable. When it finally happens, their insurance company refuses to pay and instead spends their money on insurance defense attorneys to ensure the injured victims do not get compensation.

In most cases, the decision to go to trial is the decision of the insurance company, not the insured. The at-fault driver doesn’t go out and hire the most expensive insurance defense firms to represent them at trial.

Who is the real “party in interest” in a car accident case? When we negotiate to resolve your claim, do we call the driver, or do we call the insurance company? When the defense lawyer takes a settlement offer to their client, do they call the driver, or do they call the insurance company?

Why don’t we tell jurors the truth and name 1) the driver who caused the accident and 2) the insurance company who refuses to pay as defendants in every car accident case?

The truth is that an insurance company is behind the scenes, paying the defense attorney to justify their refusal to pay as the at-fault driver sits at the defense table (or doesn’t, in some trials) pretending as if that was their lawyer fighting for them and not for their insurance company’s dollars…

Why Plaintiffs Should be Allowed to Talk About Insurance at Trial

Why should automobile insurance be admissible in car accident trials?

  • The insurance company is a true party in interest to the litigation and therefore should 1) be named as a defendant and 2) have a representative present at every car accident trial,
  • The rule against talking about insurance at trial allows insurance defense lawyers to perpetrate a fraud on jurors, using bias, prejudice, and sympathy to argue for lower verdicts,
  • The rule exists because the insurance industry spends an obscene amount of money to ensure that industry-friendly laws are passed or industry-unfriendly laws are not passed – this is not how a “justice” system should work,
  • In many cases, the insurance company is the only reason that we are in trial to begin with, and the “defendant” is not allowed to say they would like to settle the case because, if they do, they will lose their insurance coverage, and
  • The attorneys and court should never be required to lie to jurors or to refuse to answer questions about the most basic aspects of a trial like, “why are we here?” or “who will pay this verdict?”


If you have been involved in a car accident that was not your fault, your attorney on the Axelrod team will meet with you, investigate your crash, gather the evidence you will need to prove liability and damages, negotiate with the insurance company to settle your case, and take them to trial if they refuse to pay full and fair compensation.

Call your SC auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team now at 843-916-9300 or send us a message for a free case evaluation.

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