The collateral source rule simply says that any evidence of you having private health insurance that covered part or all of your medical care is immaterial (not relevant) in terms of it being introduced as evidence (proof) that your medical bills were partly paid already or covered completely by your private health plan (the collateral source). Why? Because a defense lawyer will try and argue that the amount your health plan (the collateral source) covered (a much lower amount) should be the medical bills a jury gets to see instead of what the actual medical bills were (a much higher amount).
You see, if a sneaky defense lawyer can convince a judge that is what the jury should see at time of trial, it can impact your injury case negatively in terms of pain and suffering damages because the jury only gets to see the lower amount of medical bills (what your health plan covered). However, do not worry! The collateral source rule is alive and well in California and you need a good injury lawyer to argue for it! I do this on every injury client to ensure we get the true medical bills in front of the jury!
Here is the law on it:
Helfend v. Southern California Rapid Transit District, 2 Cal.3d 1 (1970)
Seminal case regarding collateral source rule--contains great language to the effect that a personal injury plaintiff is rarely overcompensated despite the collateral source rule because he/she has to pay attorneys fees and costs. See also Lund v. San Joaquin RR, 31 Cal.4th 1, (2003); Arambula v Wells, 72 Cal.App.4th 1006 (1999); McKinney v. Portland Cement, 96 C.A.4th 1214 ('02). BAJI 14.10 – pltf to recover “reasonable value” of medical expenses. CACI 3903A “the reasonable cost of reasonably necessary medical care...” Note—People v. Hamilton, 114 Cal.App.4th 932 (2004) recently extended the collateral source rule to restitution claims in criminal court, noting that “it is firmly established as the California rule.” quoting 6 Witkin, Cal. Law, Torts, §1388.
Just another reason why good California injury attorneys are needed on California injury cases!
Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Auto Accident Attorney, and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm devoted to representing families of injured persons of automobile accidents. If you or someone you love, has been injured or killed in San Diego County, or Southern California, due to the negligence of another, please order your FREE copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information, insights, and secrets that will help you protect your legal rights. It normally sells for $16.95; however, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident.