On Thursday, August 18, the California Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion in Hamilton v. Howell Meats. The result will severely limit the compensation that accident victims receive in many cases. No Longer may the jury consider the amount that a hospital or health care provider bills as the reasonable value of the services rendered (which the plaintiff would be entitled to recover). Now, that amount is limited to the amount paid by the plaintiffs health insurer to satisfy the charges. So if the hospital is contractually bound to the health insurer to write-off a portion of it’s charges, who gets the benefit of that? The wrongdoer! The plaintiff without health insurance may recover far more than the prudent plaintiff who purchased coverage.
We the members of the Consumer Attorneys of California hope that this unfair and shortsighted decision can be corrected. In the meantime, having experienced counsel representing you if you are injured in an accident is more important than ever.