Woodland Hills personal injury attorney Barry P. Goldberg is often confronted with situations where there are multiple sources of insurance recovery for his clients. Many clients do not realize that the “Collateral Source Rule” may reward them for having their own insurance— even if that may involve a “double recovery.” Recently, the collateral source rule has been under attack particularly in the context of medical billing and awards of past medical expenses. However, the rule has been used successfully in other areas such as property damage and underinsured motorist coverage.
The collateral source rule “provides that if an injured party received some compensation for his injuries from a source wholly independent of the tortfeasor, such payment should not be deducted from the damages which the plaintiff would otherwise collect from the tortfeasor.” (Hrnjak v. Graymar, Inc. (1971) 4 Cal.3d 725, 729, emphasis added; Helfend v. Southern Cal. Rapid Transit Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 1, 6 (Helfend).) The rule “expresses a policy judgment in favor of encouraging citizens to purchase and maintain insurance for personal injuries and for other eventualities. Courts consider insurance a form of investment, the benefits of which become payable without respect to any other possible source of funds. If we were to permit a tortfeasor to mitigate damages with payments from plaintiff’s insurance, plaintiff would be in a position inferior to that of having bought no insurance, because his payment of premiums would have earned no benefit.” (Helfend, supra, at p. 10, emphasis added.)
The collateral source rule applies in property damage cases (Shaffer v. Debbas (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 33, 40.) Many insurers contend that they are liable only for items such as unpaid property damage deductibles. However, such a position violates a policy behind the collateral source rule, namely that the tortfeasor “should not be able to avoid payment of full compensation for the injury inflicted merely because the victim has had the foresight to provide [herself] with insurance.” (Helfend, supra, 2 Cal.3d at p. 10, emphasis added.)
The collateral source rule “is intended to ensure that the right of an injured party to be fully compensated for all his or her damages is protected, even if in some instances it entails that party obtaining double recovery from both the insurer and the wrongdoer.” (Miller, supra, 103 Cal.App.4th at p. 379, emphasis added.)
Notwithstanding the Collateral Source Rule, “double recovery” by plaintiffs occur infrequently because, upon payment, the insurer is subrogated to the rights of the insured as against the defendants who caused the injury, or the insurer may seek a refund from its insured. Only by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will most well insured plaintiffs learn whether the rule inures to their benefit and they may obtain a larger recovery than they thought possible.
Personal Injury Law FAQs
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make After Suffering A Personal Injury?
As a Woodland Hills, CA personal injury lawyer sees in many cases, a common mistake many claimants make is to delay seeking medical attention. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away, but delaying medical evaluation can not only worsen the injury but also diminish the chances of securing rightful compensation. It’s also essential to keep a record of all treatments and consultations related to the injury. Another mistake includes failing to report the incident, which can create discrepancies in your claim. Proper documentation is crucial to the legitimacy and strength of your case.
How Can Social Media Impact My Personal Injury Claim?
In the digital age, it’s tempting to share our experiences online, but when it comes to personal injuries, this can be detrimental. Insurance companies and opposing counsel may monitor your social media accounts for evidence that contradicts your claims. For instance, posting photos of physical activities after claiming severe injuries can undermine your case. Even seemingly innocent comments about the incident can be twisted against you. With these details in mind, you should be especially cautious and take key actions to minimize your online presence while going through a personal injury case so that you do not potentially weaken your case.
I’ve Been Offered A Settlement. Should I Accept It Without Consulting A Lawyer?
While the offer may seem substantial, it’s essential to remember that insurance companies often try to settle for the least amount possible. By consulting a Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you’re adequately compensated for your injuries. With a highly rated and competent Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer like one from Barry P. Goldberg, you can better assess the costs of your case, damages you can recover and other key details that you should know. Often, these initial offers overlook long-term impacts and future medical expenses that might arise.
Is It Necessary To Gather Evidence At The Scene Of An Accident?
It is key to gather as much evidence as you can while at the accident scene so that your case can be as strong as possible. The scene of the accident can offer a wealth of evidence, from skid marks to security camera footage. While it may be overwhelming immediately after the incident, gathering as much evidence as possible can bolster your claim. Take photographs, get contact information from witnesses, and note down any details that might fade with time. This proactive approach will ensure that crucial elements aren’t overlooked and will aid your Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer in representing your interests.
How Long Do I Have To File A Personal Injury Claim?
The statute of limitations varies according to the type of injury that you sustained. However, it’s generally advisable to file as soon as possible. Waiting too long can lead to evidence degradation, witness recollections fading, or even the risk of exceeding the statutory time limit, thereby forfeiting your right to file altogether. It’s also important to recognize that some injuries might take time to fully manifest, emphasizing the importance of timely action. If you want to know the details of your case and start strong, consult with a trusted Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.