Pa. Damages Recovery Act and Source of Warranty Rule

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After Pennsylvanians are injured, most medical treatment expenses are covered either by private insurance or by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, formerly the Department of Social Welfare (DHS), through state-funded Medicaid. . When a third party claim is brought, the plaintiff generally seeks to recover the cost of medical care, but the defendant argues that the plaintiff is not entitled to recover the amount of medical bills and often argues that he should be allowed to tell the jury who paid those bills. None of the information provided by a defendant on this matter is relevant to a question and would be contrary to the control of the Pennsylvania authority.

Collateral source evidence

Pennsylvania law is clear: the victim of a tort is entitled to damages caused by the fault of the tortfeasor, regardless of compensation the victim has received from other sources. To see Denardo vs Carnival, 297 Pa. Super. 484, 444 A.2d 135, 140 (1982) (citing, inter alia, Budwin c. Yellow Cab410 Pa. 31, 188 A.2d 259 (Pa. 1963); Griesser v. National Railway Traveler, 2000 Pa. Super 313, 761 A.2d 606, 609 (2000). The “collateral source rule”, which is intended to protect victims of tort, provides that payments from a collateral source shall not diminish damages otherwise recoverable from the tortfeasor, and therefore, this rule prohibits a defendant in a personal injury action from introducing evidence of the plaintiff’s receipt of benefits from a collateral source for the same injuries allegedly caused by the defendants. To see Simmons v. Cobb, 906 A.2d 582, 585 (Pa. Super. 2006). Simply put, Pennsylvania law states that insurance proceeds cannot be used to offset future compensation and, therefore, such evidence is inadmissible. Further, evidence that a plaintiff was compensated by a collateral source for all or part of the damages caused by a defendant’s wrongful act is generally inadmissible. The only exception is if proof of payment from a collateral source is relevant to another material matter in the case. To see Gallagher v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 584 Pa. 362, 375, 883 A.2d 550 558 (2005). Thus, any reference or suggestion that an applicant received benefits of any kind from an ancillary source is inappropriate. This includes any attempt by the defendant to obtain testimony from a witness regarding the deceased’s health insurance benefits or that health insurance paid for medical expenses related to the accident.

Reversible error

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