We have previously written about the very important California Court of Appeals decision handed down in the case of Howell v. Hamilton Meats and Provisions‚ Inc. which clarified that the collateral source rule is still the law in California‚ thereby permitting injured people to recover the full amounts of their medical bills from the negligent party rather than just the amount “paid” by their insurance company via monetary payment. You can read a prior article and the Court of Appeals opinion here.
Now‚ after the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments during the appeal‚ it appears that the highest court in the state is poised to side with insurance companies and drastically limit or change the collateral source rule–for the benefit of negligent parties and their insurance companies. That is the exact OPPOSITE rationale for why the collateral source rule exists: the tortfeasor should not benefit for the foresight of the injured person in purchasing and then paying for health insurance prior to the accident‚ sometimes for years.
Law.com did a writeup of the oral arguments and it appears that the justices of the Court were very cold to the idea of maintaining the law and the collateral source rule as is. Nobody is sure what changes are coming‚ but it appears certain that change will be coming–and at the expense of injured Californians for the benefit of insurance companies.
Ross Jurewitz is the founder and managing lawyer of the Jurewitz Law Group, a San Diego personal injury attorney law firm. These San Diego injury accident lawyers specialize in helping people seriously injured in a variety of accidents throughout San Diego County and California.
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