(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this automobile accident/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
Thus, the court determined it was proper to place the entire medical charges before the jury, as better evidence of the degree of harm, and effect a post-verdict reduction of damages to account for the difference between the amounts paid by private health insurance and the amounts billed by the health care provider.
Nishihama is not dispositive. To the extent that Olszewski limited Hanif’s application to the Medi-Cal context, it implicitly overruled Nishihama’s extension of Hanif to the realm of private insurance. Moreover, the Supreme Court reserved the issue in connection with private insurers. In Parnell v. Adventist Health System/West (2005) 35 Cal.4th 595, 611, fn. 16, the Court explicitly declined to reach the question of whether Olszewski and Hanif “apply outside the Medicaid context and limit a patient’s tort recovery for medical expenses to the amount actually paid by the patient notwithstanding the collateral source rule.”
Regardless of whether this Court agrees with Nishihama, it does not alter the fact that under the collateral source rule the tortfeasor should be precluded from reducing the injured plaintiff’s recovery because his or her insurer was able to contract with the health care provider to treat Plaintiff below its normal rates.
This Court is bound by the collateral source rule as enunciated by the California Supreme Court and the Olsen and Greer decisions allowing presentation of a plaintiff’s total medical bills. Allowing a tortfeasor to mitigate damages with payments from plaintiff’s insurance carriers would place Plaintiff in a position inferior to that of having no insurance. Such a result would be highly inequitable and grossly prejudicial to Plaintiff. The issue of whether a reduction of Plaintiff’s medical expense award is appropriate should be reserved by the court in post-verdict proceedings.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.