Medical Expenses in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit: Full or Discounted?

Medical expenses, and in particular an injured person’s ability to present a full picture of his or her medical expenses for the treatment of injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, are perhaps the most misunderstood aspect in Florida personal injury cases.  Many times defense attorneys will attempt to confuse or mislead the judge, jury or even an injured person to think they are not entitled to present their full medical bills to the jury to consider in awarding non-economic damages for the pain and suffering they experienced from their injuries.  In particular, they will argue that the jury should not hear about or award the full billed amount of the treatment the injured person received. Their rationale is that the medical treatment may have been paid for by the injured person’s health insurer and the healthcare provider provided a discount to the insurer.   However, Florida law is clear; the jury hears the total amount of your past medical expenses so that it can accurately assess how serious your injuries when it renders its verdict.  The judge then makes an adjustment to the jury’s award in order to reflect the amount that was actually paid by your insurer after any discounts that the healthcare provider gave.

Damages Recoverable in a Florida Personal Injury Case

 Under Florida law, you are entitled to recover the full measure of your damages as a result of another person’s negligence.  This includes the reasonable value of the past medical care and treatment you are forced to undergo as a result of that person’s negligence as well as what a jury determines your pain and suffering as a result of those injuries to be.  For example, if someone’s negligence in a motor vehicle accident causes you to break your arm and your arm requires surgery as well as follow-up physician visits and physical therapy for your arm to be in the same condition that it was in prior to the accident, Florida law would permit you to recover the full value of the costs of the treatment.  It also would permit you to recover whatever amount a jury determines would compensate you for your pain and suffering as a result of those injuries.

Health insurers often have negotiated rates with healthcare providers that are less than the amount that shows up on a bill that the provider may send to the insurer or the patient for whatever treatment was provided.  Due to these discounts, medical bills are rarely paid in full. This means that in a Florida personal injury lawsuit the injured party and the party that injured him or her may end up in a dispute over which of the injured person’s past medical expenses, the full charges or the reduced payments, may (i) be presented to the jury to consider when determining a person’s pain and suffering as a result of those injuries and (ii) may ultimately be awarded to the injured party after a trial.

Common Tactics Used by Defense Attorneys 

Defense attorneys will often complain to a judge that the prices charged by healthcare providers are inflated and don’t reflect the amount that you (or more likely your health insurer) will pay or have actually paid for treatment associated with injuries you suffered as a result of their client’s actions.  They argue that their client should only be required to pay and the jury should only hear evidence concerning the amount of medical bills after the applied discount.  They do this in an attempt to both reduce the amount of money that their clients are held responsible for paying as well as to make your injuries seem less severe to the jury than they actually were.  A jury that hears that you received $100,000 of treatment for a surgically repaired shoulder may consider your injuries (and, more importantly, your pain and suffering as a result of those injuries) to be more severe than if they heard that an insurer was able to cut a deal on those medical bills for $60,000.

Thankfully, Florida law is clear that an injured party can ask the jury to consider the full amount of the medical bills incurred for treatment associated with someone else’s negligence when determining that person’s pain and suffering as a result of those injuries.  The jury also awards an amount of damages to the person based on the total medical expenses without applying any discounts that may have been given by the healthcare providers.  After the jury has come back with its verdict, the judge then adjusts the amount awarded by the jury to the injured party to take into account whatever discounts were applied by healthcare providers.  This arrangement is only fair because it presents an accurate picture to the jury of how bad the person’s injuries were, while also not allowing the injured party to recover some sort of windfall for medical expenses that were not actually incurred or paid by the injured party’s insurer.

Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. If You Have Been Injured in Florida

When you or a loved one suffers a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, you need legal assistance you can depend on to help you recover maximum compensation for those injuries. The experienced, skilled Florida personal injury lawyers at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. are adept at handling even the most complex personal injury claims. Our attorneys have more than 150 years of combined experience in personal injury litigation. We routinely face difficult issues in our cases including defense attorneys who attack our clients’ rights to recover the amounts of their full past medical expenses as a result of someone else’s negligence.  Call us today at 877.694.6079 or email us at contact@schwedlawfirm.com at to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer today.