Jury Not Allowed to Know if Defendant has Insurance

Jury Not Allowed to Know if Defendant has Insurance

Maryland generally holds that evidence of a defendant's insurance is inadmissible to show fault or lack thereof.8 Jones v. Federal Paper Bd. Co., 252 Md. 475, 494, 250 A.2d 653, 664 (1969); Takoma Park Bank v. Abbott, 179 Md. 249, 263, 19 A.2d 169, 176, cert. denied, 314 U.S. 672, 62 S.Ct. 134, 86 L.Ed. 538 (1941). Cf. Association of Indep. Taxi Operators, Inc. v. Kern,178 Md. 252, 260, 13 A.2d 374, 377 (1940). See also McCormick on Evidence § 201, at 593 (E. Cleary 3d ed. 1984). Where the insurance carrier is a party to the suit, the existence of insurance obviously cannot be kept from the jury; however the amount of uninsured motorist coverage should not be disclosed, unless the amount is in controversy.9 The rationale for this approach is that the coverage amount has no relevant bearing upon the jury's consideration of the issue of damages. Moreover, establishing the availability of a sum certain is likely to distort a jury verdict. See generally International Co. v. Clark, 147 Md. 34, 42, 127 A. 647, 650 (1925).10 The jury's knowledge of the available policy limits can work to the disadvantage of either party depending on the circumstances of the case.