Most people are very confused when we tell them they cannot sue the other driver’s insurance company. The look on their faces is even more perplexed when we tell them that they cannot mention the name of the other driver’s insurance company at trial. In fact, they usually think we are crazy.
Unfortunately, when you are involved in an accident with an individual in Alabama, you cannot sue that individual’s insurance company. You may only sue the other individual. For example, if John Doe collides with Mary Smith, Mary Smith would file suit against John Doe and not Allstate, John Doe’s insurance company. The jury is never allowed to know that John Doe has auto insurance. Instead, the jury is left to wonder whether a verdict would make John Doe go bankrupt or whether he has insurance coverage.
Is this fair? We tend to think it’s not fair. All the cards should be laid on the table, especially in light of the abolishment of the collateral source rule. What’s the collateral source rule? Well, when Mary Smith is injured in the accident, her BlueCross BlueShield will pay her medical bills. Her BlueCross BlueShield coverage is a collateral source. Under the old rule, John Doe could not tell the jury that Mary Smith’s bills were paid by BlueCross BlueShield. However, the Supreme Court of Alabama abolished this rule, and now, the defendant can tell the jury that BlueCross BlueShield paid Mary Smith’s medical bills.
If the defendant can tell the jury that the plaintiff had health insurance, why can’t the plaintiff tell the jury that the defendant had car insurance? It doesn’t make sense, and I cannot explain it, but that’s the law of our State. As of now, this law is not changing any time soon.