Personal injury laws tend to be convoluted to the average person. For example, many accident victims don't even know what the collateral source rule is. Below is an overview of this rule and how it can affect your personal injury case.
What It Means
The collateral source rule acts on two levels. First, the rule says that the compensation an accident victim may receive from other sources other than the liable party won't reduce the compensation from the defendant. Secondly, the rule prevents the defendant from using such compensation as evidence during the personal injury trial.
Consider a case where an arsonist burns down a business owner's store with all the merchandise inside. The local business community then comes together and raises some money to help the owner buildup their business. The business owner's insurance company also gives them some money to cover some losses.
According to the collateral source rule, the arsonist must compensate the business owner for their entire losses. The arsonist cannot argue for a reduced settlement by claiming that the owner already has some money from the local business community and the insurance company. In fact, the jury should not even hear about those two sources of compensation during the trial.
Those who support the collateral source rule argue that it is necessary to ensure people bear the responsibilities for their actions. If someone causes you damages worth a million dollars, the person should compensate you with a million dollars. They also argue that the rule helps to discourage people from engaging in dangerous activities or from being negligent.
Some people argue that the collateral source rule can give some people double compensation after an injury or loss. These people think that if you suffer a million dollar loss, a million dollars is what you should get irrespective of the sources of the compensation. Allowing people to receive compensation from various sources would make some people "profit" from their injuries.
Some states have listened to both supporters and come up with different variations or limitations of collateral source rule. For example, some states allow collateral source evidence in a few cases (such as medical malpractice). Some states also exclude some benefits, such as government benefits, from the collateral source rule restrictions.
As you can see, personal injury cases can be pretty complicated. If you are not careful, you might lose some damages simply because you don't understand all the rules. That is why it's best to work with an experienced lawyer when pursuing personal injury damages. For rmoe information, contact a personal injury lawyer today.