Medical Damages in California Car Accident Negligence Lawsuits
January 15th, 2016 by Patrick Hogan
When a negligent party causes a car accident and you suffer injuries that require medical attention, you may be entitled to recover money damages to compensate you for those injuries. Since at least 2011, however, California law has limited the types of evidence that attorneys can introduce when they take your car accident negligence case to trial.
Historically, car accident negligence attorneys used an injured party’s medical bills as proof of the dollar value of that party’s injuries. Insurance companies increasingly pay contract rates to medical service providers, however, and those rates are typically a fraction of the amount actually billed for those services. A physician might bill $1,000 for a particular service, for example, but the insurance company might only pay $400 pursuant to its contract with the physician. In view of this arrangement, California courts only allow consideration of the amount actually paid to the physician, and not the amount that the physician billed, when determining the damages award that will be owed to an injured party.
This can create different outcomes in two separate car accident cases that have nearly identical facts. One injured party’s insurer in one case may reimburse at a higher rate, leading to a higher damages award than for the injured party in the other case. If an injured party is insured through a government program like MediCal, his or her damages award may be substantially lower because those programs reimburse medical service providers at a very low rate.
Your car accident negligence attorney might attempt to use your full medical bills at a trial of your case for another purpose, but again the California courts have cut off virtually every avenue that an attorney might use to get your full medical bills before a jury. As a result, car accident negligence attorneys in California will present more detailed evidence of how your accident happened and they will seek to increase your damages award by showing proof of lost wages, pain and suffering, and any long-term or permanent reductions in your quality of life following the accident.
Your opportunity to recover damages from a negligent party that caused a car accident has not been eliminated in California. Rather, the California courts have increased the difficulty for collecting a larger damages award. If you have been in a car accident in California, please contact us for an assessment of your case and for information on how we can help you to collect the largest amount of damages that California law will allow.
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