The collateral source rule is a common law doctrine that has impacted personal injury cases in a significant manner for nearly a century. When a hospital or doctor issues a bill to a person who has insurance coverage, it is quite common for the medical care provider and the insurance company to negotiate a reduced rate for the bill. This can result in the insurance company paying less to the doctor than the amount of the actual bill. Evidence of these reductions in bills, however, cannot be used as evidence in personal injury cases. This means that the jury only knows the amount of the actual medical bills, not the amount that actually satisfied the bills.
The Wisconsin legislature again is taking steps to eliminate the collateral source rule in order to eliminate the perceived windfall that injury victims might receive in their personal injury claims. Critics of the collateral source rule claim that the principle allow the injured individual to be compensated for so-called “phantom” damages. Theoretically, the injured person could end up getting more compensation for medical bills than his or her insurance company actually paid for the bills, or, in some minds, more than to which he or she is entitled by virtue of the personal injury suit.
On the other hand, those in favor of the collateral source rule claim that discontinuing the rule would result in reduction in a negligent party’s financial responsibility for the injuries that he or she has caused. The fact that an injured party has good insurance coverage would diminish the negligent party’s duty to properly compensate the injured party, whereas an injured party with no insurance coverage would increase the negligent party’s duty of compensation.
As Wisconsin personal injury laws continually change, you need the lawyers who keep up-to-date on the most recent legal developments in this area of the law and know how to best apply these laws to your advantage in your case. The Madison personal injury attorneys of Bonner & Vaughan handle personal injury cases on a daily basis, and we know what it takes to get the compensation that you need. Take the first step and call our office today to set up your free consultation with one of our Wisconsin auto accident lawyers.