If you’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you can often win damages to pay for future medical care even if you are entitled to get your medical care paid for by the Veterans Administration or Medicare.
The federal appeals court in Chicago had to decide whether a plaintiff could recover future medical expenses future medical expenses when the injured person was entitled to free medical care as a veteran. The trial court had said that future medical expenses can be awarded only if there has been a showing that the money recovered would reasonably be expended on future care.
The jury instruction said that a jury should award future medical expenses in the amount that “will reasonably and necessarily be expended by plaintiff in the future for the care and treatment.”
Free Care from the VA
After noting that the plaintiff was entitled to free care from the VA hospital, that the care provided by the VA hospital was reasonable and adequate and that there was no evidence that the level of care provided at a private facility would equal that at the VA hospital, the trial court awarded future medical expenses only in the amount necessary to supplement the care received at the VA hospital.
The injured man appealed this decision, arguing that the district court misinterpreted the law, and maintains that all that is necessary for a plaintiff to obtain future medical expenses is expert evidence establishing that the plaintiff requires future medical care and the reasonable costs of such treatment.
Plaintiff Wins Appeal
The appeals court disagreed, applying what is known as the collateral source rule. This rule provides that “a personal injury claimant’s recovery is not to be reduced by the amount of compensation received from other sources, i.e., sources ‘collateral’ to the defendant.”
Consequently, the fact that an award of future medical expenses to the plaintiff may not be expended on medical care does not bar such an award.
Defendant Still Liable
Permitting the injured person to recover twice for the same injury pursuant to the collateral source rule is justified because the negligent party should not be permitted to reap the benefits of the plaintiff’s foresight in obtaining coverage for future harm or his good fortune in obtaining compensation gratuitously.
So if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Memphis, you are entitled to get justice even if your medical care is largely or totally paid for. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a skilled Memphis personal injury attorney for a consultation on your case.