Doug / 04-25-2011 / Personal Injury

Colorado Supreme Court Grants New Trial in Wal-Mart Personal Injury Case

According to PR USA, the Colorado Supreme Court has decided to review a 2010 Colorado Court of Appeals decision involving the collateral source rule. The central issue is whether a Colorado personal injury defendant can introduce evidence of the actual amount a health care provider received for a plaintiff’s injuries.

In a Wal-Mart injury case, a delivery driver was unloading at the retail giant’s truck bay and suffered injuries when a manual overhead door struck him in the head. He sued the retail giant for $240.000 that was billed for medical services, as well as $100,000 for lost wages.

The defense sought to introduce evidence that the plaintiff only paid $40,000 for medical services but the trial court denied Crossgrove’s motion to suppress this evidence despite the clear guidance in the collateral source rule. The jury ultimately awarded Larry Cross grove $50,000 for economic losses and the court reduced the damages based on the $40,000 figure and contributory negligence. The plaintiff appealed the decision.

The appeals court reviewed the decision, citing an established common law principal that recognized and defended the potential benefit to plaintiff created by the collateral source rule. The three-judge appellate court explained how the discounted rate paid by insurance companies to health care providers is loaded with factors that are not relevant to the reasonable value of the services performed. Healthcare providers accept significantly less from insurers due to expedited payments and advantages of providing services to a large group of people. The court concluded that the discount granted by medical professionals is a third-party payment that cannot be disclosed to juries. Based on the conclusion, the judgment of the Crossgrove’s trial against Wal-Mart was vacated and the case was granted a new trial on the amount of damages.

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