At trial, the plaintiff is not allowed to tell the jury that the defendant has an insurance policy. This is important because jurors may mistakenly assume the defendant is paying for its own lawyers and will be responsible for any judgment.
This is problematic, particularly when the plaintiff is a parent whose child was sexually or physically abused at a public or private school. The jury may conclude that it does not want to award damages against a public school because it will increase taxes, or the jury may conclude that an award of damages will spell financial ruin for a daycare or private school.
A Jury May Extend Sympathy to the School Over Financial Concerns
Almost always, the jury is not allowed to know that schools—including public schools—have insurance policies. The schools’ lawyers are paid for by insurance companies. And an award of damages will be paid by the insurance company, not the school.
In practical terms, the real defendant in the case becomes the insurance company. Insurance policies include a “duty to cooperate” clause. This clause requires the insured party, such as a school, to cooperate in defense of the lawsuit. Some schools or daycare facilities do not want to upset the insurance company for fear that it could abandon them during the lawsuit. After all, it is the insurance company who chooses the lawyers for the school and pays the lawyers’ fees.
As a result, the insurance company, rather than the school, can often make key decisions in the lawsuit. Even if the school wants to resolve the case through a settlement, the school’s path could be blocked by the insurance company. The insurance company is concerned about its bottom line, even if a school wants to walk the path of moral responsibility.
Consequently, due to the law and rules of a court, the jurors will not hear that there is an insurance company behind the curtain, causing the jurors to extend sympathy to a defendant that does not have financial exposure.
We Stand Ready to Help You Obtain Justice
DRZ Law has long been a leader in Missouri and Kansas by helping clients win a full recovery when a school or daycare has permitted physical injuries or sexual abuse of a child. Contact us today to hear how we can develop a strategy best suited for your family’s needs.