How are my medical bills calculated when I am compensated for injuries I sustained in a car accident?
One interesting issue that is being discussed in the personal injury realm is the calculation of medical expenses when settling a case or presenting facts to a jury. Historically, lawyers have been able to show members of the jury the amount of medical expenses a victim of motor vehicle negligence has sustained by supplying the jury with copies of the medical bills. A jury would, in turn, consider whether these expenses were reasonable and necessary in connection with the injuries the victim sustained and the treatment he or she received.
Due to significant changes in tort “reform,” things have begun to change in that area. In Texas, a law was enacted that restricts a victim of negligence to recover only the medical expenses “paid.” This may seem like a mere nuance in language. However, it has broad and far-reaching implications.
For example, a victim of negligence sustains a serious neck injury and is treated overnight in the hospital. In turn, after multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy, this person incurs $100,000 in medical bills. However, this person’s personal health insurance policy paid for these damages by negotiating with the hospital to accept a total of $5,000. That victim is only allowed to show the jury $5,000 in medical expenses rather than the full amount of the bill.
Conversely, in another example, a person is hit by a car and incurs the same amount of medical bills as the person in the previous example, only that person is uninsured. They are able to show the jury the full amount of medical bills — $100,000. In turn, they are likely to receive a much higher verdict than the person who had personal health insurance.
In considering both of these scenarios, it’s important to note that the insured victim is more or less punished for carrying health insurance. These varying outcomes would seem to discourage the carrying of personal health insurance. While this is an example that is the law in Texas, it very well could be the start of a national trend. If you find yourself in a situation where you are facing compensation for paid vs. incurred medical bills or the well known “collateral source rule, it is always best to contact a Little
Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into the compensation of medical bills after a car accident.