RULE 411. LIABILITY INSURANCE
Evidence that a person was
or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon the
issue of whether the person acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully. This rule does not
require the exclusion of evidence of insurance against liability if offered for another purpose,
such as proof of agency, ownership, or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness.
Evidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible to prove whether the person acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully. But the court may admit this evidence for another purpose, such as proving a witness's bias or prejudice or proving agency, ownership, or control.
Rule 411 was amended, effective March 1, 1990; March 1, 2014.
This general prohibition against disclosure of the fact that a person is or is not
against liability is a fair statement of present North Dakota law. See, Bischoff v. Koenig, 100
N.W.2d 159 (N.D. 1959); Beardsley v. Ewing, 40 N.D. 373, 168 N.W. 791 (1918). But, see,
James v. Young, 77 N.D. 451, 43 N.W.2d 692 (1950), wherein a direct action by a third
party against an insurance company was allowed on the grounds that municipal ordinance
requiring insurance for the benefit of a public carrier passenger made insurer directly liable.
See also, the discussion in Shermoen v. Lindsay, 163 N.W.2d 738 (N.D. 1968).
The reason for the rule is that the existence or nonexistence of liability insurance is of low
probative value as to the issue of negligence, and may be prejudicial.
But see the
of this rule and the policy underlying it in McCormick on Evidence § 201 (2d ed.
The second sentence of the rule merely states that evidence of insurance need not be excluded if offered for another purpose to which it may be relevant.
Rule 411 was amended, effective March 1, 1990. The amendment is technical in nature and no substantive change is intended.
Rule 411 was amended, effective March 1, 2014, in response to the December 1, 2011, revision of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes
: of April 26-27, 2012,
pages 19-20; March
24-25, 1988, page 12; December 3, 1987, page 15; April 8, 1976, page 26.
411 , Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule 411, SBAND proposal.
Considered: N.D.C.C. §§ 39-16-03, 39-16-11, 49-18-33.