Why you probably can't sue an insurance company for your accident. Many of my clients ask me why I don’t file suit against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. After all, it is the insurance company’s adjuster who I have been negotiating with for months before filing suit. The reason I don’t name the insurance company in the lawsuit is that generally, many states laws says I can’t.
It’s known as the “Collateral Source Rule”, and basically it says that any form of payment that either party may receive due to the accident is a “collateral source” and not admissible in evidence. The reasoning is that the State of Georgia wants juries to decide these cases based upon the facts of the case, not who is paying the bill.
This applies to both sides in a personal injury action. On the plaintiff’s side, the jury won’t know if his medical bills have been paid for by insurance, the theory being that an at-fault defendant should not reap the benefits because the plaintiff was wise enough to get health insurance. On the defendant’s side, the jury won’t know that he has automobile liability insurance, the theory being that the jury will award more money if they know an insurance company may pay the judgment, not the defendant personally.
There are some exceptions to this rule, the biggest being trucking cases. A plaintiff is allowed to name a trucking company’s insurance company as a defendant in a trucking accident lawsuit. Also, in a case where the defendant driver is uninsured or under insured, the plaintiff can serve a copy of the lawsuit on his own insurance company, and they have the option to respond to the lawsuit in their own name, if they wish to do so. However, in most other cases the jury will never know insurance is involved, even though they will be the ones paying the judgment after the case is tried. In fact, in a personal injury action, the defendant’s attorney is even provided free to the defendant, but the jury will again never know that.
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