If you are injured in an accident, you may have a lot on your mind when it comes to your case, such as wondering how the jury will feel about your case, what defenses will be used against you, and what the actual case will be like when it comes to depositions or medical examinations.
What are Collateral Sources?
One thing you may not be thinking about are collateral sources, and in fact, you may not know what they are or even realize they are a part of a personal injury case. However, collateral sources are a vital part of what you stand to recover in a settlement or verdict.
A collateral source is a source that provides you some payment or reparation for your injuries, other than the defendant in your case, and often, regardless of fault or liability. The most common source is health insurance, which will pay medical bills regardless of the facts of your case. Employers may provide sick pay for days that you miss work. Business owners may have business interruption insurance, which pays them for money lost when you can not operate your business because of your injuries.
In some cases, portions of your settlement or verdict must be used to pay back these collateral sources, or a verdict may be reduced by the amount of any source, which is why they are so important. If your employer paid you $3,000 in injury pay or for sick days, and your receive a verdict for $15,000, the collateral source rule could allow the verdict to be reduced by the $3,000.
Maryland Has a Favorable Rule
Thankfully, Maryland’s collateral source rule is very favorable for injury victims. Maryland law prohibits a jury from reducing an award based on collateral sources, or even taking collateral sources into consideration when making its decisions. This means that a victim may retain from a defendant even amounts already paid to him through other sources.
The rule does have limitations—particularly health insurance. Most insurance policies have contractual conditions that will require you to pay them back from your settlement or verdict for amounts that they have expended towards your medical care. A $100,000 verdict is not so appealing when your insurance company has paid $90,000 and wants the money back.
Federal law may also override Maryland law. Government entities like Medicare or Medicaid, have rights of subrogation, which will compel you to pay them off for whatever they have paid towards your care.
Right to Negotiate
Even sources that have a right to be paid back, can be negotiated with. Many attorneys overlook this process, and just pay these sources 100% of their liens. But the more collateral source claims are reduced, the more that you as a client receive as reparation for injuries. You should always demand that these liens be negotiated, so you do not end up losing the bulk of your settlement or verdict to a collateral source.
If you are injured as a result of a negligent act, make sure your attorney correctly handles your case from start to finish. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your case.