Who Pays the Verdict or Settlement
In Florida Is the Insurance Carrier a Party
As a college student, I became interested in pursuing a career in law. I consulted with my uncle and being totally naïve about personal injury I asked a series of questions. My initial question was how people of relatively modest means were able to afford counsel for their defense. My uncle responded by saying that most, if not all, who had counsel, likely had insurance coverage which provided a defense of its insured. And most people in the community knew insurance was going to pay and judgments were likely higher as a result.
Insurance companies sensed this trend and sought a way to curb verdict amounts. The passage and acceptance of non-joinder statutes became common place. After a hue and cry from the insurance lobby (and myopic defense bar) in the mid 1970’s the Florida Legislature passed the predecessor statute of §627.4136(1) (2016). Nonjoinder of insurers. The initial version of this statute and all subsequent iterations prevent a Plaintiff, who is not an insured from naming the insurance company as a party in a lawsuit. The carrier argument was that the inclusion of the insurance carrier as a party unfairly prejudiced the insurance carrier in that a jury may be more likely disposed to award more money against a large insurance carrier as opposed to an individual or small business. The carriers had posited that if they were not named as a formal party verdicts would be lessened in amount and frequency. The community would be more sympathetic to its own rather than a huge insurance carrier. The community as noted above saw through this and the effect was not as dramatic as the carriers would have liked.
Where the Plaintiff does not have a contract with the insurance carrier the insurance carrier although a fiction, was no longer a named party in third party claims. It did not take long for the Plaintiff’s bar to respond. The response in Florida, as well as other jurisdictions, was to be more selective in choosing the best venue for a Plaintiff friendly jury. The jury pool in most urban dominated counties tend to be populated by a higher percentage of minorities who historically are more sympathetic to individuals over corporations.
The seasoned trial attorney will review the facts of the case and try to connect the lawsuit to a circuit court that has a history of Plaintiff friendly jurors. As an example, many New York lawyers will file a lawsuit in the Bronx, as a result of its historically higher personal injury verdicts instead of another New York City County (a/ka/ “Borough”) Queens, New York (Manhattan) County, Kings (Brooklyn) County or Richmond (Staten Island) County. In Florida, most astute Plaintiff’s lawyers will, given the choice, choose to file a lawsuit in a county with a comparably higher urban component. Very often these jurisdictions have a higher verdict amount than those in the suburbs or rural areas.
The ruse perfected by the insurance lobby and defense bar was a thinly veiled attempt and an insult to most jurors. What does this mean to us and why is it important? Here’s why! It is an attempt to legally mislead the jury and reduce verdict amounts. Nobody likes to serve on a jury. We all have lives; jury duty is exactly that a civic duty. Our system works well when jurors return a verdict based on evidence, the non-joining of the carrier who is the real party in interest is a device that carriers use to protect their bottom line and not their insured.
If you have been injured call the DRG firm 24/7 786-800-9493
We try cases and if needed will file in the most beneficial circuit court available. We are South Florida Injury Attorneys and we are here to help 24/7 365 days a year.