New Laws Affecting Personal Injury Cases

On August 28, a number of new laws will take effect in Missouri that will negatively impact citizen’s 7th amendment rights in personal injury cases.  What follows is a summary of how these laws will affect personal injury cases.

Senate Bill 31 (the “collateral source law”):

This law will limit medical expense claims to the “actual cost of the medical care or treatment” rendered to a personal injury victim.  “Actual cost” is defined as “a sum of money not to exceed the dollar amounts paid by or on behalf of a plaintiff or a patient whose care is at issue plus any remaining dollar amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation for medical care or treatment by a health care provider after adjustments for any contractual discounts, price reduction, or writes offs.”

Before 2005, personal injury victims could sue for and recover the total amount of their charged medical expenses, whether or not such expenses were contractually adjusted or written off pursuant to the terms of their health insurance contract.  Under pre-2005 law, those who caused injury to such victims would not be entitled to a “discount” or “adjustment” on the damages they caused that resulted from a personal injury victim paying many thousands of dollars in premiums over the years.  Beginning in 2005, the law was changed to create a rebuttable presumption that the dollar amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation to a health care provider represented the value of the treatment rendered.  However, a plaintiff was able to rebut this presumption by introducing the total medical charges in addition to the amount paid and any amount still owed for that treatment.

The new law effective August 28 will negatively impact an injured plaintiff’s ability to collect full compensatory damages from wrongdoers and will place additional burden on our healthcare system by shifting the true cost of medical care from these wrongdoers to hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers who will have to absorb these costs.

House Bill 153 (the “expert witness law”): 

This law adopts the federal Daubert standard for admissibility of expert testimony.  Pursuant to this standard, a party may file a so-called Daubert motion to exclude the admission of expert testimony.  While not a major change to current state law regarding the admissibility of expert testimony, such Daubert challenges can make litigation more costly, requiring more expert time and costs, when evidentiary hearings are required to determine the admissibility of the testimony being challenged.

House Bills 339 and 714: 

These laws set new requirements for time limited demands made by plaintiffs, making it more challenging for injured plaintiffs to secure interest on any future judgment and making it more difficult to sue an insurance company for bad faith.

If you have questions about any of these new laws and how they may affect you or your family, feel free to call us at (636) 946-6886.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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