The collateral source rule is a legal principle that prevents someone from recovering compensation twice for the same damages. In other words, the goal is to stop someone from “double dipping” at a defendant’s expense.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example. You were rear-ended while driving home on the Cross Bronx Expressway and hurt your back. Your medical bills came to $25,000, but your health insurance covered these expenses. This means that you were not stuck with paying your bills yourself, so in a personal injury suit, you cannot claim any reimbursement for that $25,000 from the driver who hit you. The premise is that you can’t recover these costs if a third party paid for them.
On the other hand, if you didn’t have health insurance or any other means of paying these bills other than out of pocket, then you may be entitled to be compensated for your medical costs if your lawsuit prevails. Your personal injury attorney will include the $25,000 medical expense in your claim against the at-fault driver.
Unlike some states, New York does not allow recovery under the collateral source rule. The law states that if you file a personal injury lawsuit against someone, then their defense attorney can limit your recovery by proving that a collateral source, such as your health insurance company, covered your medical bills. This is not to say that you won’t recover any damages at all, but they may be limited to financial losses that were not paid by a third party.
What other compensatory damages are recoverable in New York?
In addition to medical costs paid out of pocket, New York personal injury law lets you sue for loss of income if the accident left you unable to work, the cost of hiring nursing assistance and special transportation if your mobility has been impacted, and property damage, such as a totaled vehicle.
The law recognizes two types of compensation: economic and non-economic. The former consists of damages that can be “priced,” such as lost wages, medical expenses, and damaged personal property. The latter addresses damages that are difficult to value, such as pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a jury may award you punitive damages to punish the defendant for their outrageous conduct and deter similar incidents in the future.
If you have been injured, then a New York personal injury attorney will advise you on what you can expect to recover in a lawsuit. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx personal injury lawyer with over 35 years of legal experience. He has helped recover millions for his past clients. The goal of a person injury case is to ensure that you are not left out of pocket for any expenses occurred due to someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct. If you were injured, then call 718-329-9500 to set up a free in-person initial consultation with Mr. Lutzky. To learn more, visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com/Accidents.