Folks on jury duty learn alot- trials take longer than the hour they do on TV, they are often slow and boring, and forensic science doesn’t give all the answers all of the time (Sorry CSI.) However, there are a lot of things the Jury in a civil case never hears.
The Insurance Company controls the Case.
When you buy car insurance, mandatory here in Missouri, your insurer takes over once you have an accident. That is good for you, because you don’t want to be bothered. On the other hand, it also puts you at risk. If your insurance company refuses to settle with the person you hurt, YOU are the one who gets sued, even though the insurance company is paying your legal bills and the judgment- within limits. Let’s say you bought the minimum coverage, $25,000.00. If a jury renders a verdict against you for $30,000.00, you are on the hook for the difference over your coverage! If the insurance company had an opportunity to settle your claim for your policy limits or less and didn’t, they may owe you money for their bad faith refusal to settle, and they will have to pay the entire verdict amount, even if it exceeds your coverage.
Jurors are never told that the insurance company is in control of the case, and the insurer decide whether the case settles or not. They only hear that the defendant did wrong- and that the victim is somehow at fault for suing.
If the Defendant was on the job, the Company has to pay the verdict against him.
If the defendant in a civil case was at work when he got into a wreck or hurt someone, he may get sued- again, that depends on the insurance company. But it is rare for that individual defendant to have to pay damages from a lawsuit. Employers, even municipalities, have to indemnify (pay the bills) when their employees harm someone while working.
Verdicts get reduced by the judge if someone else paid for their share of the damages.
In a situation where two defendants combine to cause damage, one of them will often do the right thing and pay for their responsible share, leaving the other to go to court. Jurors are told that one of the wrongdoers paid for their fault, but are often left to guess whether the injury victim has been fully compensated or not. When one defendant settles, the amount of the settlement is subtracted from the jury verdict by the judge. This keeps the victim from getting a double recovery. Unfortunately, Jurors often try to subtract a settlement from a verdict as well, resulting in a double subtraction.
Some important evidence is never heard.
Lawyers and courts are governed by rules, and these rules sometimes hold important information out of the jurors’ consideration. Whether someone has insurance, payment of medical bills and even certain expert opinions never come out in court.
Our system is not a perfect one, but as the old saying goes, it is way better than the next best one.