Court Errs in Excluding Plaintiff’s Evidence of Payments Received by Defendant’s Insurance Company

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alaska issued a written opinion holding that a lower court erred when it denied the plaintiff the opportunity to submit evidence of the payments made by the defendant’s insurance company to the plaintiff to help establish the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. In the case, Luther v. Lander, the court determined that the insurance payments to the plaintiff were relevant to the determination of how serious the plaintiff’s injuries were.

Snowy RoadThe Facts of the Case

Back in 2010, the defendant’s vehicle slipped on some ice and rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle. At first, the plaintiff did not notice any serious injury, but as time went on, she realized that she had lingering pain in her back and buttocks. She eventually sought medical care but did so in a very conservative manner, seeking only non-invasive, physical therapy-type treatment.

About two years later, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for her injuries. However, throughout the trial, the defense evidence seemed to indicate that the plaintiff’s injuries were minor and that she was making them seem more serious than they were.

The plaintiff tried to introduce evidence that the defendant’s insurance company paid her $10,000 as part of the claim, seeking to help show that she did indeed sustain a serious injury. However, the court did not allow the evidence to be considered by the jury. Ultimately, the jury did find in favor of the plaintiff, but only for about $3,000. Moreover, the court ordered the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees, which totaled around $9,000. After all was said and done, the plaintiff owed the defendant just over $6,000. The plaintiff, not satisfied with the result, appealed.

The appellate court determined that the lower court should have allowed the plaintiff to introduce the evidence of the defendant’s insurance payments to the plaintiff. However, the court also held that the court’s mistake was harmless to the plaintiff, so the verdict should stand. The court explained that the evidence did tend to rebut the defendant’s claim that the plaintiff did not suffer any real injury. However, the court also noted that the plaintiff did not present any medical expert testimony, or any other proof of her damages. Thus, the court felt that even if the evidence had been presented, it would not have had a substantial effect on the outcome.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As the case discussed above illustrates, it is very important that you seek out all appropriate medical care promptly and document all medical treatment received. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have ample experience with Maryland car accident cases, and we are available for free consultations. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up your free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

More Blog Posts:

DUI Accidents on Maryland Roads, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published May 17, 2016.

Auto Manufacturers Seek Help from Insurance Companies to Increase Compliance with Safety Recalls, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 18, 2016.

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