Illinois Appellate Court in Slip & Fall Case Affirms Collateral Source Rule

The 3rd District Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a Bureau County Jury Verdict in a premises liability case against the City of Princeton. The plaintiff was injured when he stepped into a depression on a sidewalk and fell on Main Street in Princeton, Illinois. The plaintiff introduced evidence of over $119,000 in medical bills to the jury. The jury returned a verdict of $170,800 for the plaintiff.

During trial, defense counsel attempted to introduce evidence that the bills were discounted down to $34,888.00 by Medicare. (If a hospital or doctor receive a Medicare payment that is less than the amount billed, the rest of the bill is wiped out by accepting payment from Medicare).

The Court barred the defense from introducing evidence that the bill was reduced to $34,888.00 under the collateral source rule. This rule stops a defendant from informing the jury that the plaintiff has insurance, as a jury may then improperly conclude that the plaintiff sustained no damages.

The appellate court stated that the rule prevents a wrongdoer from taking advantage of contracts that exist between the injured and other parties (like a health insurance contract).

The collateral source rule is very helpful for injury attorneys when trying to settle cases. When negotiating a settlement, we submit medical bills to insurance carriers as part of our demand package. The rule prevents a defendant from trying to reduce a settlement offer by stating that the plaintiff’s health insurance carrier already paid the bill. The defendant knows that if we go to court, the full amount of the bill will come into evidence.

Click here to read the Court’s opinion in Nick Nickon v. City of Princeton, No. 3-06-0952.

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