Posted by Sansone / Lauber Trial Lawyers on February 15, 2012SHARE IT
In Missouri, injury claims, such as a car or truck accident, are valued by the amount of harms and losses suffered by the victim. There are two general types of harms and losses or “Damages” in personal injury cases; (1) Special damages or economic damages: which include specific amounts billed or out of pocket, such as past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, damage to property. The second general type of damages is (2) Non economic damages or pain and suffering. In the past medical bills were determined by the amount billed, not the amount paid. So if the injured victim was charged $100,000 in medical care but their insurance paid $50,000, at trial the evidence would be $100,000, not $50,000.
Currently, the billed versus paid amount being submitted to a jury is controlled by the Missouri Supreme Court case of Deck v Teasley. See St Louis injury law article: “Under Missouri Personal Injury Law, Medical Damages are Amount BILLED to patient, NOT Amount PAID by Insurance; assuming proper evidence is established by Plaintiff” However, What if the medical bills are only partially paid and not satisfied in full by a lower amount paid by insurance, can the defense make a rebuttable presumption of reasonable value being the amount paid? As a practicing St Louis PI lawyer I think the answer is no.
An affidavit as to the amount partially paid with a balance owed should not invoke the rebuttable presumption of reasonable value created by Missouri Statute 490.715. As the statute specifically provides that ” (2) In determining the value of the medical treatment rendered, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the dollar amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation to the health care provider represents the value of the medical treatment rendered. R.S.Mo. 490.715.5 (2) (emphasis added.) If the medical providers bills are not satisfied in full then the defendant should not be entitled to the statutorily created presumption. No provision of law, and certainly not R.S.Mo. 490.715, allows Defendant to urge that the partial payment of a medical bill which does not satisfy the balance owed is the reasonable value of medical services provided to Plaintiff.
The Deck case did not completely resolve the billed versus paid battle. This is currently still a tricky area of law and is handled differently by different judges. At trial many Judges are currently allowing the plaintiff to submit evidence of the total amount billed and allowing the defense to submit evidence of the amount paid. However, neither side is allowed to comment as to why the numbers are different. Neither side is allowed to mention insurance, neither medical insurance or auto insurance. So they issue of billed versus paid is still not completely settled, but good injury lawyers are making sure they submit the strongest evidence on behalf of their clients to at least get the amount billed in front of a jury whether it is submitted with the amount paid or hopefully, just by itself.
St Louis car accident attorney and personal injury lawyer Ben Sansone of the Sansone / Lauber law firm has been practicing injury law for over 10 years in the St Louis area and across Missouri and Illinois. Call (314) 863-0500 or contact an injury lawyer online for a free no obligation consultation today.