Dateline: April, 2011, Issue 1

Do jurors discuss insurance in deliberations when awarding damages?

The insurance exclusionary rule in civil trials prohibits disclosure to jurors about whether a party is insured to prevent, among other things, jurors adjusting damages awards because a party is insured.

Does silence about insurance during trial imply that jurors do not discuss the matter spontaneously during deliberations?

Jurors are aware of insurance, and often raise the issue spontaneously. For example, Diamond and colleagues (1989) described an accident case to jury-eligible adults, and nearly 25% spontaneously mentioned something about insurance.

Jurors often discuss insurance in deliberations, and adjust damage awards because of presumed insurance in approximately 1 in 7 cases. For example:

In sum, most civil juries discuss the parties' insurance during deliberations and adjust awards in some cases. No uniform adjustment occurs across cases. Juries sometimes augment awards because of a defendant's insurance, sometimes reduce awards because of a plaintiff's insurance, and most often make no adjustment in the damages awarded.

Source Diamond, S., Casper, J. & Ostergren,L. (1989). Blindfolding the jury. Law and Contemporary Problems, 52, pp. 247-267.

Source Guinther, J. (1988). The Jury in America. New York: Roscoe Pound Foundation.

Source Mott, N., Hans, V. & Simpson, L. (2000). What's half a lung worth? Civil jurors' accounts of their award decision making. Law and Human Behavior, 24, pp. 401-419.

Source Diamond, S. & Vidmar, N. (2001). Jury room ruminations on forbidden topics. Virginia Law Review, 87, pp. 1857-1915.

Source Greene, E., Hayman, K. & Motyl, M. (2008). "Shouldn't we consider….?": Jury discussions of forbidden topics and effects on damage awards. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14, pp. 194-222.