Posted by Sansone / Lauber Trial Lawyers on March 23, 2012SHARE IT
Ever since the 2005 Tort “reform” law changes in Missouri there has been an ongoing debate as to what the amount of medical damages submitted to a jury is. Auto insurance companies and their lawyers argue for the amount paid by the individual or their health insurance and not the full amount of the bill. As most people know, the amount of a medical bill and the amount actually paid often differ. This previous injury law article discusses the background of the “paid” versus “billed” debate.
Recently, Missouri Federal Judge Mummert issued an order pertaining to this issue in an Under-Insured Motorist “UIM” case which would logically also apply to a Missouri Uninsured Motorist “UM” case as well. Judge Mummert ruled that Mo.Rev.Stat. § 490.715.5(2) is inapplicable in a under-insured motorist case, and thus also a uninsured motorist case, because the negligent person responsible for the injuries, the Under-insured motorist, is not a party to the case, thus the statue is not applicable. Section 490.715.5(1) reads that “[p]arties may introduce evidence of the value of the medical treatment rendered to a party that was reasonable, necessary, and a proximate result of the negligence of any party.” Because the medical treatment rendered to Plaintiff was the proximate result of a non-party, a plain reading of the statute forecloses application by the insurance company; which is the named defendant (party) to a UIM or UM case. See Mummert.Order.790.715
This is an important ruling for all “UM” and “UIM” cases going forward as it helps put the argument to rest of what amount to consider going to the jury in an auto crash or other personal injury trial. The difference between the amount Paid versus Billed is oftentimes very significant and makes a major difference in settlement negotiations as well as at trial. The “Paid” versus “Billed” battle is still ongoing and is not settled law in Missouri. However, Orders like this one, even though it is pertinent to UM or UIM cases only, helps settle the issue at least for certain types of cases.
Auto accident lawyer Ben Sansone focuses his practice on personal injury, auto accidents, premise liability, and medical malpractice. For a free & no obligation consultation with a personal injury attorney, contact a lawyer today or call (314) 863-0500.