Things A Jury Likely Won't Hear In Court
Being part of a jury, you may see some unusual things, but here is a list of things you usually will not see or hear in court.
Suing the At-Fault Party, Not the Insurance Company
Many people incorrectly believe that when they are unable to agree on a fair settlement of their claim, they can file a lawsuit directly against the insurance company of the person who injured them. But, the law of most states requires that the at-fault party, NOT his or her insurance company, be named in any lawsuit. Even if the policyholder is a relative or close family friend, he or she must be named in the lawsuit before their insurance company can be forced to pay the claim. The insurance company then defends the case and pays any verdict which is within the policy limits.
Rules of Evidence and Insurance
The Rules of Evidence generally prohibit even the mention of insurance in lawsuits involving claims for damages for injuries caused by another. Neither the injured party nor his attorney is allowed to tell the jury that the defendant has insurance coverage to pay any judgment against him.
Rules of Evidence and Payment of Medical Bills
The Rules of Evidence do not allow attorneys to tell jurors whether or not medical bills have been paid or who paid them. When medical bills are paid by a group health insurance plan, the plan often has a right to reimbursement from any money received from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Many people mistakenly believe health insurance plans do not have to be repaid. In fact, most group health insurance plans must be repaid from any settlement or jury verdict. Health insurance plans may sometimes claim the right to take every penny that is recovered, even if it leaves the injured person with little or nothing.
Entities established and maintained exclusively for charitable purposes are protected from suit by the doctrine of charitable immunity. But, when such entities maintain liability, insurance actions may be brought directly against their insurance carriers.
Liability - Joint & Several
If a person is found “liable” for injuring another, he is legally responsible to pay damages to the injured party. Liability may be “joint,” where more than one party is liable for the same injury, or “several,” where a party is liable only for those injuries and damages caused by him.
Joint and Several Liability is a common law concept that says when two or more parties are responsible for an injury, the injured party may recover the entire amount of his damages from any defendant. That defendant may then seek “contribution” from the other defendants for their share of liability.
Arkansas follows a modified Joint and Several Liability Rule under which a defendant who is found to be 1 percent to 10 percent at fault will only be responsible for that same percentage of damages caused; a defendant who is 11 percent to 50 percent at fault can be assessed an additional 10 percent if a co-defendant is unable to pay his share of a judgment; and a defendant who is 51 percent to 99 percent at fault can be assessed an additional 20 percent if a co-defendant is unable to pay his share of the judgment. (This provision does not apply to long-term care facility medical directors). Ark. Code Ann. § 16-55-213
Many people do not know that, in most civil cases, the plaintiff has to pay his own attorney's fees and case costs out of any recovery or award.