In many negligence cases, the plaintiff has to prove that the cause of his or her injury was something for which the defendant was actually liable. One of the ways that many would like to prove that the defendant is liable is by showing that liability insurance exists.
Unfortunately for those who would like to use insurance to prove liability or guilt, this is not possible. The Federal Rules of Evidence, for use in federal court and which have been generally adopted by all but 8 states, prohibit using evidence of insurance to establish guilt or liability.
The rationale behind prohibiting this use of insurance is that it discourages individuals from doing the right thing and insuring themselves in the event that someone is insured. So for policy reasons, allowing a person’s insurance to be used against him or her in a lawsuit as proof of guilt or liability is counter to the goal of getting society to act in as responsible a way as possible.
Fortunately, proof of insurance can be used to help prove many other things. For example, the hypothetical plaintiff is injured leaving a store due to a hole in the sidewalk. The plaintiff tripped and broke or hurt his or her ankle badly. If, during trial, the shop itself claims that it didn’t have ownership or control of the sidewalk and so was not liable for the injuries, proof of an insurance policy that covers the area in front of the door would be admissible since it is not being offered to show guilt or liability. It is merely being offered to show that the shop did have control of the sidewalk where the injury occurred.
If you have been injured in a store or coming out of a restaurant, contact the Rhinelander premises liability lawyers of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® at 800-242-2874 for the legal representation you need.