COLLATERAL SOURCE EVIDENCE IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES
Pending before the Arizona Legislature is H.B. 2239, a bill that would allow collateral source evidence to be considered by a jury in all personal injury cases. Such evidence is already allowed in medical malpractice cases. Collateral source evidence is evidence of a plaintiff’s recovery from sources other than from the one who caused the accident or injury, such as their own auto or health insurance. The general rule has historically been that public policy encourages people to insure themselves and that doing so should not be used against them and for the benefit of a person that causes them harm. If passed, the current version of the bill would:
- allow a defendant in an action to recover damages for personal injury, wrongful death or for property damage or destruction, to introduce evidence of any money or benefit that is or will be payable to the plaintiff, or on the plaintiff’s behalf, as a result of the injury, death, damage or destruction;
- permit introduction of collateral source evidence for the purpose of establishing that any cost, expense or loss the plaintiff claims to have suffered related to the action is subject to reimbursement or indemnification;
- stipulate that if the defendant introduces collateral source evidence, the plaintiff may introduce the following evidence: (a)amounts the plaintiff has paid or contributed to secure the plaintiff’s right to any benefit; (b) that recovery from the defendant is subject to a lien; (c) that the benefit provider has a right of recovery against the plaintiff as reimbursement for the benefits; and (d) that the benefit provider has a right of subrogation to the rights of the plaintiff;
- stipulate that the evidence is admissible for considering the plaintiff’s damages and allows the trier of fact to choose the weight the evidence possesses.
- stipulate that collateral source evidence of reimbursement or indemnification may not affect a healthcare provider or collateral source benefits provider’s ability to pursue any lien or right of reimbursement; and
- become effective on January 1, 2014
Our firm handles Plaintiff personal injury cases. Thus, it is fair to say that we are not proponents of this proposed bill. If a jury can consider a plaintiff’s insurance, it should also be able to consider a defendant’s insurance. From our perspective it should be mutual or not at all. And, an injured party should receive the benefit from their own insurance, not the one who caused the injuries or damage.
We will try and keep an eye on this bill and let you know if it becomes law in Arizona.