The subject of collateral source evidence arises in every medical malpractice lawsuit. Basically, and in this context, collateral source evidence relates to any payment made for medical bills (or any bills) by someone other than the person who brings the suit. The most common type of collateral source payment is that made by an insurance company. Attorneys throughout the country like to argue about whether collateral source evidence is admissible and, if so, whether the amount paid, or the amount billed, constitutes the measure of damages that goes to a jury.
Here in Nevada we have a relatively new and unfortunately restrictive collateral source statute in medical malpractice cases. This statute is lengthy and can be found at http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-042.html#NRS042Sec021 .
While this provision is the rightful subject of legal analysis for years to come, basically it does the following:
First, it allows a defendant to introduce collateral source evidence.
Second, a plaintiff may introduce evidence of whatever the plaintiff has paid.
Third, and controversially, it states that collateral benefit sources introduced by the defendant may not recover against the plaintiff.
Fourth, and problematically, it allows for periodic payments after a judgment.
While the entire subject may seem a little dry, the collateral source evidence that is introduced is often key to the amount of the judgment that is obtained.
More on this in future columns.