The Collateral Source Rule and Car Accident Injury Lawsuits in Alabama

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Reading your medical bills can be a disorienting experience for many reasons.  First, the exorbitant amounts can be a shock, especially if you are already paying for expensive insurance premiums specifically to prevent being charged huge sums for medical treatment.  Then there is the confusing alphabet soup of deductibles, copays, premiums, and all sorts of other financial obligations you have as a condition of carrying and using your medical insurance.  Medical insurance billing is even more complicated than most patients have to think about, though, once you consider the amounts that the insurance company pays and the amounts that the healthcare provider discounts or “writes off” as a favor to the insurance company.  These distinctions may or may not matter when assessing medical bills in car accident injury lawsuits; Alabama courts deal with this issue differently from most other states.

Medical Bills as Evidence in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Most personal injury lawsuits involve an injured plaintiff requesting that a defendant compensate the plaintiff for past and future medical bills for injuries resulting from the accident that the defendant caused.  Plaintiffs can also request compensation for other things, such as lost income and emotional distress, but almost all seriously injured people have medical bills beyond what they can afford. The collateral source rule says that the defendant can be required to pay the total cost of the medical bills, even if the plaintiff has another source of funding to pay for part of them, usually in the form of health insurance.  Some states do not allow the defendant to bring up the fact that the plaintiff has medical insurance, but Alabama does.

Does the Collateral Source Rule Affect Alabama Car Accident Lawsuits?

A 2010 decision by the Alabama Supreme Court abolished the collateral source rule, meaning that defendants can present evidence about the plaintiff’s health insurance coverage.  This means that plaintiffs should be honest and specific about what they have been required to pay when requesting damages for medical bills.  If you ask the defendant to pay expenses above what insurance has already covered, it can make you appear greedy and dishonest. You should also ask the defendant to reimburse you for the deductibles and copays you had to pay to your insurance company, as well as the portions of the medical bills not covered by insurance.  Of course, any money that you recover that a health insurance company has already paid will have to be reimbursed to them. The collateral source rule does not, however, cover non-economic damages such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.  

Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm About Car Accident Cases

Even if you have health insurance, you may still be in need of compensation from the person who caused your accident, and a Mobile Car Accident lawyer can help you recover that money.  Contact Stevenson Klotz in Mobile, Alabama to discuss your case and to see whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

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