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McLeish Orlando:

The double standard in truth telling: insurance companies allowed to deceive jurors

If you have ever sat on a jury in a motor vehicle case, it might surprise you to know that you were only given part of the story. The injured person in the case testifies and is properly expected to tell the whole truth, but the jury is not allowed to know that an insurance company is pulling the strings on the defence side of the case. 

In trials involving a car accident, there is always an insurance company paying the judgement, but there can be zero mention of insurance during the trial. Jurors are left with the impression that the defendant will have to pay whatever the jury awards from his or her own pocket.   

 

While the person who caused the harm is being sued, the lawsuit is really against the insurer. The insurer:

  • hires and pays the defence lawyer
  • hires and pays doctors to asses the injured person and then testify against the person in court
  • decides to settle or forces the case to trial
  • pays the final judgement

It is important to note that the person who is being sued is a fixture, and the insurance company continues to manipulate the jurors. This manipulation typically leads to:

  • creating a false sense of sympathy for the offender
  • giving the injured person a lower award
  • saving the insurance company money

If there is any mention of an insurance company’s involvement with the case, a mistrial can result.

Jurors are also not told about the deductible of $38,000 on awards for pain and suffering. Jurors might feel that they have adequately compensated an injured person for a lifetime of pain and suffering by awarding them the sum of $125,000. They will never be told that the injured person will only receive the sum of $87,000. The insurance company simply gets to keep the first $38,000 awarded by the jury!

It is time for the playing field to be leveled. Jurors should not be actively mislead into thinking that the “poor person” who accidentally caused the crash may lose his or her home and life savings if the jury awards fair compensation. Jurors ought to be told that the Ontario government cares more about insurance company profitability than it does about people being fairly compensated for their pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

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