Insurance Stuff in Court for Personal Injury?
January 2, 2009 7:56 PM   Subscribe

In a personal injury small claims case, will the judge want to see insurance bills and payments?

They seem secondary to the case, as I have the original hospital/ambulance/Dr bills.

I heard somewhere that judges don't consider anything insurance does for you, because it's just like the insurance company is handing your money (that you already paid to them) back to you.

No clue if that's true, though.

Should I include the insurance stuff in the original claim/affidavit?


Should I bring them to the courthouse with me just in case?
posted by SlyBevel to Law & Government (5 answers total)
In a personal injury case, the insurance company that pays medical bills (generally) has a lien on any judgment or settlement. So, the defendant could pay $X amount, which would cover your medical plus compensatory (pain and suffering), and then you would owe a certain amount to the insurance company (probably not the full amount of the bills, but whatever reduced amount they paid to the hospital, ambulance, etc.). Or you can have the defendant pay the lien amount directly, and pay you any not-covered expenses plus pain and suffering. I would bring the insurance papers.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:28 PM on January 2, 2009

Thank you, ClaudiaCenter.

Does it change anything if I only ask to be compensated for the amounts of the medical bills I had to pay myself? Or does the insurance company have a lien on all judgements up to their liability, and after that, I get the rest?

posted by SlyBevel at 8:35 PM on January 2, 2009

I'm not sure -- I think an insurance company could still try to get a portion of the settlement or judgment toward its expenses, at least in some states, but if the settlement is a modest amount maybe that's more hypothetical than reality. I hope other people chime in. And the judge should know the law on this in your state.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:50 PM on January 2, 2009

Typically these cases have two main issues: liability (is the plaintiff entitled to recover?) and quantum (how much is the plaintiff entitled to recover?). While insurance documentation may not be particularly relevant to the former, I would think it's probably relevant to the latter.

Does it change anything if I only ask to be compensated for the amounts of the medical bills I had to pay myself?

If you do ask this, I would imagine a reasonably diligent judge will want evidence of what you had to pay for yourself - and evidence concerning your insurance bills and payments would be relevant to this. It's not hard to picture a judge looking at a medical bill and asking "did your insurance company reimburse you for this?" or "what's your copay?" Conversely, if you were a judge, and a plaintiff had insurance but didn't bring any documentation as to what it paid for, wouldn't you be a bit suspicious?

It may state in your insurance policy what your insurance company's stance is regarding these claims - whether they have a lien or a subrogated interest or something like that. If they are going to be entitled to a portion of your recovery, you may want to consider this in deciding whether you only want to ask for part of your damages.

If it were me, I would bring the insurance documentation. The judge may not ask for it, but in the event he or she does, you will be prepared. Small Claims attracts all types, and most judges can't help but be a little more sympathetic to a litigant who is organized and coherent.

(IAAL, but not in your jurisdiction. IANYL. TINLA.)
posted by AV at 6:49 AM on January 3, 2009

The more documents and information you bring, the better - so long as it is all organized and you can easily locate it for reveiw. if you can cart it in, and keep it organized, bring the kitchen sink.

the only thing you lose by bring in toomuch information, is a tired arm from bring a heavy brief-case.

(of course, if you have so much in a dis-organized mess, then you risk looking like a fool (or worse) when you can not find a document - so, it has to be all organized)
posted by Flood at 7:44 AM on January 3, 2009

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