The Impact of Medical Insurance on a Personal Injury Claim
The health complications occurring after an accident can be fatal. In most accidents, prompt medical attention is necessary to ensure that additional injuries do not occur as a result of the delay. In fact, it is often encouraged by law enforcement officers and medical personnel present at the scene of an accident.
Seeking medical attention after an accident may cause a detrimental financial strain on families, unless the injured party submits a claim through their own medical insurance policy. Submitting a claim through one’s own personal insurance is a common occurrence. Thereafter, some injured parties initiate civil actions to obtain a monetary award for damages obtained. During these cases, defendants often raise the issue of payment by third parties, governed by the collateral source rule. Here, it is important to be aware of the impact the collateral source rule has on your case while initiating a personal injury claim.
What is the collateral source rule?
The collateral source rule is an exclusionary rule in the state of Florida. It limits, and in some instances, prohibits evidence to the jury that would tend to indicate that benefits were paid by third parties. This follows long standing principles that a defendant’s negligent behavior should not be excused merely because the injured party was insured. In addition, the collateral source rule is intended to prevent confusion of the jury.
However, Florida is one of few states that have reformed the collateral source rule, limiting recovery. The collateral source rule does not permit double recovery. Personal injury attorneys have criticized the efforts at reform, with the legal position that a prudent person should not receive less because added precautions were taken to ensure that individual maintained insurance. Attorneys have also argued that at-fault parties should be required to make payments for the full amount of damages caused from their intentional, reckless, or negligent behavior.
In Florida, the court will reduce the amount of an award by the amounts received from collateral sources, including:
- The United States Social Security Act and any federal, state, or local disability act;
- Health, sickness, or income disability insurance;
- Automobile insurance that contains health benefit provisions;
- Other insurance (excepting life insurance); and
- Payments pursuant to a contract or agreement of any third party.
There are limitations to the application of the collateral source rule and its reform. The collateral source rule does not allow a reduction where the right to subrogation or reimbursement exists. Therefore, anytime a third party reserves the right to pursue an action against a negligent party (also known as subrogation) or seeks repayment from the funds provided, the full amounts of those funds are recoverable and no reduction will be applied.
Contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. for more Information
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. today. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will advise you of how the law relates to your personal injury claim as well as the stages of your case so that you understand what occurs every step of the way.