First Quarter 2020
By: Jason Pearlman
A Hennessy & Roach, P.C., seven state Liability Group analysis on the question of Collateral Source Issues related to Medical Bills, specifically, what is admissible before the jury?
The Collateral Source Rule is an evidentiary rule established by the Supreme Court which prohibits the admission of evidence that a Plantiff’s damages were paid by some source other than the Defendants. According to the 2008 decision in Wills v. Foster, 892 N.E.2d 1018 (Ill. 2008), the Court determined that Medical Bills paid by a third party (e.g. Insurance) were deemed inadmissible and could not be served to reduce damages awarded.
In Wills, the Court adopted the Reasonable Value Approach which allows the Plaintiff to reasonably recover for their medical expenses. Unfortunately, the Court outright rejected the benefit of the bargain approach, which previously would have allowed the Defendant to have the opportunity to introduce evidence that the medical bills were settled for a lesser amount. However, by adopting the Reasonable Value Approach the Defendant can cross-examine witnesses and introduce witnesses in order to determine the reasonableness of the medical expenses.
Under the approach adopted in Wills, when both parties stipulate to the admission of the medical bills admitted into evidence, this function gives the sole discretion to the jury (not the judge) to determine the reasonableness of the medical bills. By giving this function to the jury, they can determine whether to award all, part or none of the medical bills as damages.