The California Supreme Court made a monumental decision in 2011 that changed the way injury victims receive settlements. But was it fair?
Pre-2011, when an injured party was granted a settlement they received the full amount. If their injuries are extensive it can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. In many instances, the insurance companies are able to negotiate lower bills with hospitals for their services.
After the California Supreme Court ruling, injured parties are only able to claim a reduced settlement equaling the discounted price of the hospital services. This controversial ruling has riffled a lot of feathers.
To many people, this ruling is essentially saying at-fault drivers do not have to pay the full amount of their negligence. This is especially painful for those who have suffered through car accidents with professional drivers like commercial delivery services.
Businesses that put drivers on the road have a responsibility to train these drivers.
Their driving skills should be above average in the vehicle designated for the job. They also have costly insurance policies in place just for these instances. For these companies to be let off the hook at the expense of an average Joe is a hard pill for the general public to swallow.
Another unsavory facet of the ruling is the perception that safe, legal drivers are being punished if they are the victim of an accident of this type.
For example, A Sacramento soccer mom is traveling home with a sack of groceries when a florist truck sideswipes her. Her injuries are extensive and her medical bills stack up to almost $200,000. Since she had insurance her insurance company did its job and was able to negotiate her bills down to $60,000. Under this semi-new ruling, she would not receive a settlement of $200,000 but only $60,000, leaving the impression that she’s somehow being punished for having insurance and driving legally.
The president of the Consumer Attorneys of California summed up the majority by saying, "This is a setback for consumer rights in California."
Hospitals make these deals with attorneys in exchange for more business and timely payment. It saves insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars each year in payments across Sacramento and statewide.
The state high courts reasoning is that victims should not receive more than what was actually paid on the bills incurred from the wreck. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar explained that any larger payment cannot take place because there is not financial loss greater than the sum of the bills. The fact that the hospitals are willing to negotiate lower payments is proof to the Supreme Court that the higher payments are no indicator of the real value of the service.
This new ruling and others like it are technically specific and hard to understand. The assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced Sacramento car accident attorney is crucial. Moseley Collins is a personal injury attorney
with strong Christian ethics. He fights to maintain the rights of all his clients.