The Next Shoe Falls

posted in: California Law, Insurance |

After Howell v. Hamilton, (see blog; “The Insurance Industry”), the landscape for recovery of medical bills in a personal injury case changed.  As a consequence of Howell, which was a California Supreme Court case, lower courts began to make ruling that further changed the picture.  In Correnbaum v. Lampkin, (215 Cal. App. 4th 1308), the Appellate Court ruled that the past amount billed by medical providers was no longer admissible in court as evidence of what the reasonable value of future medical services will be.  In a personal injury case there may be an issue as to the price of future medical treatment.  How does the jury know what the cost of medical treatment will be in the future?  Typically a medical expert will testify as to those costs based on the past cost of treatment. Correnbaum says those past costs are irrelevant as to future medical costs.  The Correnbaum court also states that the cost of past medical treatment is irrelevant in deciding the amount of “pain and suffering” to compensate the injured plaintiff.  The amount of money an injured plaintiff is awarded for their suffering is often connected to the cost of the medical treatment.  That approach is no longer ‘relevant’.  So what is left?  No one knows for sure.