On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court of Nevada changed the calculation of medical damages in personal injury suits. Tri-County Equipment & Leasing v. Klinke
involved a woman/employee who was injured, by a third-party, while within the course and scope of her employment. The employee received workers’ compensation benefits and then sued the third-party for negligence. At trial the employee admitted evidence that her medical providers billed her a certain amount. The defense then sought to admit evidence that the medical providers had accepted, as payment in full, a lesser amount from workers’ compensation. The district court refused to admit the amount paid and the issue was appealed.
The Supreme Court reversed. “Applying Nevada law, we conclude that evidence of the actual amount of workers’ compensation benefits paid should have been admitted and that a clarifying jury instruction provided by statute should have been given.”
In resolving this case, the court ruled narrowly. It seems to say evidence of the amount billed AND the amount paid is admissible based under NRS 616C.215(10). Meaning the employee could tell the jury how much the providers billed, but the defense can state how much the providers accepted as payment in full. “Applying Nevada law, we conclude that evidence of the actual amount of workers’ compensation benefits paid should have been admitted and that a clarifying jury instruction provided by statute should have been given. “ Once this evidence is admitted, the jury decides the reasonable value of the services.
The court did not address any other context like Medicaid or other governmental programs with similar discounts. “Because the amount of workers’ compensation payments actually paid necessarily incorporates the written down medical expenses, it is not necessary to resolve whether the collateral source rule applies to medical provider discounts in other contexts.”
So why is this on a discovery blawg? Footnote six.
[I]t is apparent that there are numerous reasons for medical provider discounts, including discounts that result when an injured party’s insurance company has secured medical provider discounts as part of the health insurance plan. At least in those circumstances, such benefits may reside within the scope of the collateral source rule, although that is a legal issue we leave for a case that requires its determination. Whether the collateral source rule applies to other types of medical expense discounts would require evidence of the reason for the discount and its relationship to the third-party payment.
I read this as a hint that, if the court is to rule on how this issue applies beyond the confines of NRS 616C.215(10), it will expect the defense (presumably) to present, or at least make an offer of proof, consisting of “evidence of the reason for the discount and its relationship to the third-party payment.”