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Insurance Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Attorney

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Insurance and the related topic of vehicle accidents.   For more information on insurance see the pages on Wikipedia.



2003 Allstate Ins. Co. v. Wade, 265 Va. 383, 579 S.E.2d 180.

Uninsured motorist carrier sought to introduce fact that it was liable for verdict returned by jury. Trial court properly disallowed that. Insurance carrier is not only party with standing to object to admission of insurance. Even though plaintiff did not formally object before the trial court, that was not dispositive. Existence of punitive damage claim likewise is not basis for mention of insurance on theory that carrier would be paying judgment as opposed to individual defendant. Punishment of wrongdoer is not only purpose of punitive damages rather, such an award also serves purpose of protecting the public and providing an example and deterrence to others.

2001 Lombard v. Rohrbaugh, 262 Va. 484, 551 S.E.2d 349.

Trial court properly allowed plaintiff’s counsel to inquire into relationship between defense examiner and insurance carrier for defendant, as to their financial relationship. In this case, defense examiner had received over $100,000 in payments from the insurance carrier during one year. Mention of insurance in that context was permissible. During deposition, counsel for insurance carrier had stipulated to correctness of payments in lieu of further discovery to differentiate forensic payments, from payment for medical services. That stipulation was deemed to be binding on all parties since it was reached during the course of a deposition with the court’s acceptance.

1993 Medina v. Hegerberg, 245 Va. 210, 427 S.E.2d 343.

General rule is that evidence of insurance should not be deliberately injected into jury action. There are exceptions to this rule, i.e., when insurer is named as defendant, when sufficient cautionary instructions have been made by court, or where there is otherwise fair trial, and substantial justice is done. In this case, conversation disclosing insurance coverage was introduced by defendant, and evidence deals with important issues before jury, i.e., whether plaintiff’s claim was manufactured. No reversible error.

1989 Woodbury v. Courtney, 239 Va. 651, 391 S.E.2d 293.

Medical malpractice claim where issue was whether two procedures are identical. Trial court properly excluded how insurance company interpreted these terms.

1989 Forsberg v. Harris, 238 Va. 442, 384 S.E.2d 90.

Plaintiff’s counsel in opening statement mentioned that defendant is employed by insurance company. This was reversible error. It is reversible error not to grant mistrial where reference to insurance is deliberate and for improper purpose.

1989 Speet v. Bacaj, 237 Va. 290, 377 S.E.2d 397.

Any comment deliberately made to inform jury that defendant insured against accident is reversible error. Trial court did not abuse discretion in refusing voir dire on medical malpractice insurance crisis.

1977 Averett v. Shircliff, 218 Va. 202, 237 S.E.2d 92.

Property damage case. Plaintiff sought to examine property damage appraisers to effect that they were hired by defendant’s insurance company. Trial court properly refused this line of questioning.

1975 Davis v. Maynard, 215 Va. 407, 211 S.E.2d 32.

Plaintiff’s counsel made obvious attempt during voir dire of jury to inform them that defendant was insured. Since action was deliberate, mistrial should have been granted.

1974 Raisovich v. Giddings, 214 Va. 485, 201 S.E.2d 606.

During deliberations jury inquired as to how much of plaintiff’s expenses were covered by collateral source. Held: no error.

1973 Gumenick v. United States, 213 Va. 510, 193 S.E.2d 788.

Counsel pursued witness regarding her prior deposition statements and invited answer which injected insurance coverage into case. Not error to overrule motion for mistrial.

1973 Willard v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 213 Va. 481, 193 S.E.2d 776.

Insurance company which voluntarily issued policy knew its North Carolina insured might be involved in accident with uninsured motorist in Virginia, and cannot complain that its presence at trial as insurance company is made known to jury, due to North Carolina direct action statute which is applied as substantive law. Mention of insurance may not be reversible error where there is otherwise fair trial and substantial justice is done.

1972 Travelers Ins. Co. v. Lobello, 212 Va. 534, 186 S.E.2d 80.

In suit against two defendants one of whom is uninsured, it was error for counsel for uninsured motorist carrier to explain his involvement in case since this creates impression that co-defendant is insured.

1972 Facchina v. Richardson, 213 Va. 440, 192 S.E.2d 791.

Injection of insurance coverage into case; not error to refuse instructions on presumption from failure of uninsured motorist to testify or produce evidence. To apply presumption would create undue advantage since insurance carriers do not have opportunity to explain absence of uninsured motorist.

1968 State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. v. Futrell, 209 Va. 266, 163 S.E.2d 181.

Casual, unsolicited, and irrelevant mention of word “insurance” by witness during course of his testimony was not error under circumstances; court cured any error with instruction.

1968 Hope Windows v. Snyder, 208 Va. 489, 158 S.E.2d 722.

In voir dire plaintiff’s counsel asked jury if any of them ever worked for insurance company. Deliberately informing jury that defendant is insured is reversible error. In this case deliberate injection of insurance into case and large verdict demand reversal.

1967 John Doe v. Simmers, 207 Va. 956, 154 S.E.2d 146.

Plaintiff and insurance adjuster gave conflicting testimony on ownership of vehicle involved in accident. Under circumstances, testimony of adjuster as to nature of coverage by his insurance company was admissible to show his bias or interest in outcome of case and bore upon his credibility as witness.

1965 Bradshaw v. Minter, 206 Va. 450, 143 S.E.2d 827.

Mention of why defendant carried insurance is immaterial.

1963 Ames & Webb Co. v. Commercial Laundry Co., 204 Va. 616, 133 S.E.2d 547.

Plaintiff counsel asked defendant’s expert by whom he was requested to inspect premises and he responded “American Mutual Insurance Company.” Mistrial was properly denied since: (1) no showing that counsel’s question was intended to elicit this; (2) no disclosure of nature of interest of insurance company; (3) contract offered by defendant mentioned that liability insurance must be held; and (4) no showing of excess verdict.

1960 Turner v. Burford Buick Corp., 201 Va. 693, 112 S.E.2d 911.

Insurance adjuster for defendant’s insurance company stated that driver was definitely agent of defendant. There was no showing that adjuster had authority to make statement.

1959 Pannell v. Fauber, 201 Va. 380, 111 S.E.2d 445.

Statements made in contribution suit filed by insurance company will not be deemed admissions of agent.

1959 Lilley v. Simmons, 200 Va. 791, 108 S.E.2d 245.

Two jurors allegedly sought information about defendant’s insurance coverage. Motion for new trial denied because jurors denied misconduct and evidence in support of such was vague.

1958 Phillips v. Campbell, 200 Va. 136, 104 S.E.2d 765.

It is inconceivable that jurors will not speculate as to possibility of motorist being insured. Jurors in this case were not allowed to impeach their verdict by testifying to their assumption that defendant was insured and effect that had on their verdict.

1958 Simmons v. Boyd, 199 Va. 806, 102 S.E.2d 292.

At trial of this auto accident case, doctor testified this “is an insurance case.” Motion for mistrial properly denied since mention of insurance was inadvertent and harmless.

1956 Dozier v. Morisette, 198 Va. 37, 92 S.E.2d 366.

Evidence of involvement of liability insurance is irrelevant and inadmissible.

1954 Kitchin v. Gary Steel Corp., 196 Va. 259, 83 S.E.2d 348.

Statements made by claims adjuster were admitted and imputed to party since adjuster was agent of party.

1952 MacGregor v. Bradshaw, 193 Va. 787, 71 S.E.2d 361.

Plaintiff’s counsel told jury that their verdict would not hurt estate of decedent “one iota.” Argument improper but it was prompted by defense counsel.

1947 Masters v. Cardi, 186 Va. 261, 42 S.E.2d 203.

Where insurance adjuster testifies in contradiction of plaintiff or plaintiff’s witness, then plaintiff should be allowed to question him about his employment.

1947 Carter v. Butler, 186 Va. 186, 42 S.E.2d 201.

Where juror asserts that jury found in favor of plaintiff against carrier, this is not necessarily grounds for mistrial. In this case, neither party injected element of insurance into case and actual verdict was reasonable.

1946 Highway Express Lines v. Fleming, 185 Va. 666, 40 S.E.2d 294.

Virginia Supreme Court has consistently held that fact that defendant is insured is inadmissible. However, where insurance investigator is called as witness, he may then be questioned about interest in case in that he is employed by defendant’s insurance company.

1943 Brann v. F.W. Woolworth, 181 Va. 213, 24 S.E.2d 424.

Argument that defendant would not have to pay judgment himself was improper.

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Insurance Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Attorney

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