THE OBSCURE LAW THAT GIVES FLORIDA INSURANCE COMPANIES AN UNFAIR EDGE IN EVERY LAWSUIT
Most people assume that when a lawsuit goes to trial the jurors are given all the important facts. The plaintiff and defendant enter the courtroom with their lawyers who put on witnesses to testify and argue their case, and a verdict is (eventually) reached right? Not so fast.
The non-joinder statute.Have you ever stopped to wonder who is paying for all this? Who is paying for these experts who charge hundreds of dollars per hour to come testify, who is paying for this very expensive legal defense team to defend this individual or corporation being sued?
Is there something the jury is not being told?
Insurance company involvement is kept secret from the jury.The answer is yes, and it's probably the most important something a jury can possibly know. Under Florida law even though an insurance company pays the cost of hiring the defense lawyer, expert witnesses, and in most cases pays the cost of any verdict, juries in Florida are not allowed to be told that an insurance company is involved in the lawsuit or even told about the limits of the insurance coverage. Florida Statutes ? 627.4136 the insurance "non-joinder" statutes makes it unlawful for an injured person to name a defendant's insurance company in a lawsuit. Neither can either of the attorneys or any of the witnesses ever mention to a jury that an insurance company is involved or will likely be paying for the entire cost of defense and the verdict! See Thompson v. Florida Drum Co., 651 So. 2d 180, 182 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995) (error to advise jury of insurance coverage). Did you know a jury is not allowed to know that a defense medical expert can earn as much as $500,000 a year from testifying in cases where an insurance company is defending a claim?
Unfortunately, this law can and often does have unfair consequences victims of negligence. For example, in the case of Hollenbeck v. Hooks, 993 So. 2d 50, 50 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008), an insurance defense lawyer took advantage of the rule against mentioning insurance to try and mislead a jury into believing that he was a "consumer justice attorney" who did not actually represent a large corporation. While the Hollenback case was overturned in favor of the plaintiff, oftentimes insurance companies and their lawyers will take advantage of the non-joinder rule to give juries the impression that the individual or company being sued will have to "come out of pocket" for the amount of the jury verdict. In the vast majority of cases this is simply false as insurance is almost always in play. As the court in the Hollenbeck case recognized, the [jury can easily assume that a defendant does not have insurance coverage and find that he would unduly suffer from an award of damages].
Attorneys who represent victims of negligence must be prepared to defend against these tactics and do everything they can to even the playing field against the insurance companies who defend these behind the scenes. If you have questions regarding your case please don't hesitate to contact us at for free consultation.