California Supreme Court Get It Wrong

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On Thursday, August 17, 2011, The California Supreme Court handed down their long-awaited decision in the case of Howell v. Hamilton Meat and Provisions. Prior to this decision, an injured plaintiff(accident victim) was able to recover the full billed amount of his or her medical bills incurred as a result of an accident. The 6 to 1 decision decided that only the amount the medical provider has accepted as full payment for the provided medical services may be recovered as a past medical expense. What does this case mean to injured accident victims in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, and the Coachella Valley? It means settlements with insurance companies and jury verdicts will be reduced for innocent accident victims. As a Palm Springs auto accident attorney representing accident victims injured by the negligent conduct of others, I find this Supreme Court decision to be a serious assault on the legal rights of consumers. In my practice as a Coachella Valley personal injury attorney, I am contacted by accident victims who for financial reasons do not have medical insurance. They have lost jobs or work for employer's who don't provide medical insurance. If these uninsured persons get into an auto accident caused by the negligent conduct of another person they still need medical treatment even if they have no insurance. Since they are uninsured, their medical bills are not reduced by a contract between insurance companies like Blue Cross and the medical provider such as a hospital. If the hospital bill for the uninsured accident victim is $10.000.00, that amount can be recovered from the insurance company of the negligent driver. Now, however, after the Howell decision, an accident victim with medical insurance will not be able to recover $10,000.00 from the negligent driver's insurance company if the $10,000.00 original hospital bill was reduced to $3000.00 because that amount is the reduced charge negotiated between Blue Cross and the hospital. In the above scenario, the accident victim with medical insurance that cost money in the form of premiums will recover less against the negligent driver than the uninsured innocent accident victim. Is that logical? I don't think so.
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