A proposed law that has passed in the House and is now in the state Senate, would have dramatic impact on all personal injury claims in Colorado. The purpose of this bill is to abrogate the common-law collateral source rule and to negate a recent decision of the Colorado Supreme Court (Volunteers of America v. Gardenswartz.) In Gardenswartz, the Court interpreted the statute on reduction of damages for payments from collateral sources to allow for medical expenses billed rather than paid. Proponents of HB 1106 argue that this ruling is contrary to the general assembly’s intent to prevent compensatory damage awards for medical expenses from exceeding the amount accepted by the health care service provider for treating the injured party.
The proposed bill states that if payment for medical or health care services has not been made at the time of trial or arbitration, the recoverable amounts shall be limited to the amounts customarily accepted by the providers in satisfaction of their bills. In an action by a person or a legal representative to recover economic damages, the recoverable damages for reasonable and necessary medical or health care, treatment, or services shall include only those amounts actually paid by or on behalf of the injured person to the providers.
This legislation would overturn long established law in Colorado. Current case law holds that the civil justice system should not allow a wrong-doer, such as a drunk driver, to profit from the sound and responsible planning of an innocent injured victim. HB1106 is a windfall for wrong-doers and corporations to profit from the insurance premiums that innocent consumers have paid. Defeating HB1106 maintains the legal environment that has existed in Colorado for over 50 years.