Trial lawyers seek to increase medical damage awards

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, July 19, 2012 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The Consumer Attorneys of California have sponsored SB 1528 (Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento) related to medical damages recovery. Although the bill in its current form doesn’t expressly address it, opponents, including CMTA, continue to firmly believe that this measure is an effort to overturn the recent California Supreme Court decision of Howell v. Hamilton Meats.

In a six to one decision, the Court ruled that an insured plaintiff cannot collect damages at the billed rate of the provider “for the simple reason that the injured plaintiff did not suffer any economic loss in that amount.” This decision was based on the conclusion that the proper calculation of medical damages for an injured plaintiff should be based on the actual contracted rate and not the billed rate of the provider.

If successful, SB 1528 will significantly increase insurance costs for businesses, including workers compensation rates.  It will also result in windfall recoveries for plaintiffs but more importantly, for trial attorneys who receive a significant percentage from these awards as compensation.

The bill’s author, Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg, continues to claim that the bill is a “work in progress” to establish a general framework for compensating injured parties and has publicly committed to working with all stakeholders to reach consensus. However, although he’s having discussions, to date, we are unaware of any dialogue with members of the opposition coalition.

Earlier this month, SB 1528 passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a six to four vote and will be eligible for consideration by the entire Assembly upon their return on Monday, August 6th.

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