Supreme Court to Hear Precedent Setting Personal Injury Case

San Jose, California Personal Injury Lawyer

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California residents may soon see more compensation in personal injury cases. The California Supreme Court this month agreed to take up a case that could result in the guilty driver owing an accident victim the full price of her medical care, rather than a lower negotiated rate that was actually paid to the hospital.

The Precedent Setting Case

A Hamilton Meats & Provisions truck driver made an illegal U-turn and hit Rebecca Howells car. Howells spinal fusion surgery and other treatments cost her insurance company $60,000, but the full hospital rate for the procedures was $190,000.

In exchange for high-volume business, insurance companies get a 60 percent discount on average for hospital costs, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. In California, a personal injury defendant is only owed the discounted payment rate rather than the full cost of treatment.

The trial judge in Howells case ruled she was only due $60,000 from Hamilton Meats and the companys insurance company. However, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling. It said the company and its insurer owed the full $190,000 cost of the procedures. The court said Howell earned the insurance discount through her foresight and her responsible decision to carry health insurance. In a unanimous ruling, the justices said Hamilton Meats did not earn the same discount.

Hamilton hopes to reverse the ruling once again. They argue the appellate court bucked long-established judicial precedent by ordering a payment greater than the discounted hospital rate.

A state Supreme Court ruling could set a new precedent and could be worth millions of dollars for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.

Speak to a San Jose Personal Injury Attorney

To learn more about how this case could affect you or if you have suffered an injury, please speak to a personal injury attorney in your area. A lawyer can explain your legal rights and help you decide on your best course of action.

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