Did you know these things are withheld from a Jury in a PI trial?
In case you are ever involved in an accident that results in a trial for damages or in case you are called to participate in a jury panel for a Personal Injury trial, here are a few things that, according to Florida Law, are withheld from the Jury:
1. Crash Reports – Did you know that in Florida, there is no such thing as an “accident report?” They are called Crash Reports, and the State of Florida officially renamed them crash reports in 1998. The rationale behind the renaming of the report follows that accidents may all be avoided if people would take appropriate care and caution, and only people who do not take the appropriate care and caution cause crashes. Florida law prevents the Jury from seeing the Crash Report. In order to encourage people to tell the truth to police officers at the scene of a crash, Florida Statute §316.066 essentially says a person can admit any wrongdoing that may have caused the crash but the information from the crash report cannot be used against them in a later trial. Section §316.066(7) of the Statue reads, “No such report or statement shall be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal.”
2. Citations – If someone was given a citation as result of a traffic crash, according to another Florida law, this information is also withheld from the Jury. Florida Statute §316.650(9) states “Such citations shall not be admissible evidence in any trial, except when used as evidence of falsification, forgery, uttering, fraud, or perjury, or when used as physical evidence resulting from a forensic examination of the citation.”
3. Insurance – Florida Statute §627.4136 entitled the Nonjoinder of Insurers says that juries are not to know about the amount of insurance available to protect the negligent defendant. The intent of the nonjoinder statute is to ensure that the availability of insurance has no influence on the jury’s determination of damages.
Before this statute, the law in Florida allowed people who were injured in a crash to bring a suit directly against the insurance company who insured the at-fault driver rather than filing suit directly against the at-fault driver. The law was changed and now prohibits any mention of insurance during the trial because it is believed that if the jury knew that there was insurance and that a person did not have to pay the damages personally, the damages given by the jury could be higher than if they thought there was no insurance to pay the loss. The other side to this is that without knowledge of insurance, the jury may be sympathetic to the at-fault driver with thoughts that their decision may impose severe financial harm on the defendant.