Friday, August 1, 2008

The Right to Recover Full Amount Billed for Medical Services

The Court decisions in Hanif v. Housing Authority (1988) 200 Cal. App. 3rd 635 and Nishihama v. City and County of San Francisco (2001) 93 Cal. App. 4th 298 are to the effect that when a personal injury victim is insured, the damages that may be recovered is limited to the amount actually paid or incurred, not the amount stated in the actual medical billing.

These decisions draw disapproval from some, especially personal injury lawyers who represents the victims.

For starter, the insured victim pays premium to the insurance company. And if any one is entitled to benefit from such “investment” it is he who pays the same.

In effect, the decisions negate this simple logic.

It allows the defendant to benefit from the victim’s prudence and from the output of negotiation between the insurer and the hospital, clinic or medical institution as the case may be, which wouldn’t have materialized in the first place if the victim didn’t insure himself.

That was the concurring opinion in another more latter case. But, being a mere opinion, it has no binding effect to future cases with the same points in issue.

The court will still follow Hanif and Nishihama.

It may or may not be overturned in the near future. Let’s just hope that the Supreme Court uphold what is more beneficial to the injured person.

After all, the victim had already suffered personal injury. It’s not right that he suffers once more.