On Friday, November 17th, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that Tennessee law will continue to allow plaintiffs to use the full, undiscounted medical bills as evidence of their medical expenses rather than the discounted amounts that insurance companies pay.
A story in The Chatanoogan describes the case of Jean Dedmon, who filed a personal injury case in Crockett County for a car accident injury, and attached the bills from her hospital and doctor to her legal complaint as evidence of her medical expenses for the injury.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion in West v. Shelby County Healthcare Corporation, which involved a hospital lien for the full amount of the patient’s unpaid medical expenses. In the West case, the Court decided that based on the provisions of the lien statute in Tennessee law, the hospital’s lien would be limited to the discounted rate that health insurers pay the hospital. When the West case ruling was announced, the defendants in the Dedmon case argued that the West ruling had changed Tennessee law regarding all personal injury cases, and that plaintiffs in personal injury claims who have health insurance will no longer be allowed to use their full medical bills as evidence of their medical expenses.
The trial court in the Dedmon case agreed, but the plaintiffs filed an appeal. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling, holding that West does not apply to personal injury cases beyond the lien statute. The Tennessee Supreme Court agreed.
Why does this new ruling about medical expenses in personal injury cases matter?
In some personal injury cases, an insurance adjuster might use a damages formula to determine the value of your injury claim. The formula may be based on a multiplier that can be anywhere between two to five times the cost of your medical expenses to come up with a starting number for your claim without taking into consideration your lost wages. The higher the amount of your medical expenses, the higher the base number of the multiplier used to value your personal injury case.
When you suffer a serious injury in a car crash or any other accident or incident caused by another person’s negligence, you will seek medical attention immediately. Your health insurance company will pay the cost of your care, and they will expect to be reimbursed from the proceeds of your claim from the accident.
Health insurers have agreements with hospitals on how much they will pay for certain services. This number is deeply discounted from the amount that the hospital would bill you as a private person for the exact same services. For example, the hospital might charge a patient $350 for a CT scan, but they only charge the insurance company $300. The final bill that a person might receive after a hospital visit would be much higher than the bill an insurance company would receive.
The Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision not to change the law based on the West case allows plaintiffs with or without health insurance to use the full, undiscounted medical bills as evidence of their medical expenses in a personal injury case.
When you have suffered a serious injury in a car crash, you may be considering legal action against the responsible party to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and other losses. At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we fight for your right to maximum compensation when you have been injured because of another person’s negligence. We invite you to call (615) 246-5549 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Nashville car crash attorney. Our offices are conveniently located in Nashville, Hendersonville, or Knoxville. We are prepared to fight for you.