The purpose and scope of this note is to analyze the apparent irreconcilable conflict which exists in both state and federal cases with respect to the discoverability of a defendant's liability insurance policy and its limits in an action based on an automobile accident. The cases analyzed are limited to those involving automobile accidents in which the plaintiff has attempted to learn of the existence of liability insurance through one of three techniques of discovery as provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or similar state procedures: (1) oral deposition, (2) written interrogatories, and (3) orders for production and inspection of documents. The basic rule in this area is Rule 26 (b) which provides for the scope of examination permissible under these rules. The state cases discussed involve those states which have adopted, either by statute or court promulgated rules, civil procedure. The analysis here is limited to the reasoning employed by both state and federal courts in denying or allowing pretrail discovery of the existence and limits of liability insurance in automobile negligence actions. Therefore, the particular discovery technique employed by the plaintiff in these cases is not significant for this purpose.
Larry A. Winter,
Pretrial Discovery of Existence and Limits of Automobile Liability Insurance,
W. Va. L. Rev.
Available at: https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/wvlr/vol72/iss3/8