Republican legislator Charles Dave Hood from Ormond Beach sponsored a bill (HB379) in the 2014 session of the Florida legislature. If passed it will change evidence about medical bills in all personal injury trials. Negligent persons will not be accountable for all the damages they cause, and you will be stuck with the balance due.
Good old Charlie is one of the founding partners in the Daytona Beach law firm of Smith, Hood, Bigman. It has long been a defender of insurance companies. If you take a look at Charlie’s firm website, it proudly specializes in helping insurance companies “defend” all types of injury claims; in other words reduce or eliminate payments to persons who make an accident injury claim. Insurance has been cutting checks to the firm for more than 25 years. Now that Charlie is in Tallahassee he is expanding the scope of his favors to the insurance industry, to the detriment of his constituents.
House Bill 379 proposes to limit damages caused by careless and negligence of all types by depriving the claimant’s right to show the jury what his/her actual total medical bills are, or will be for future medical expenses. Here is how Charlie’s Bill would work:
You or a loved one are driving home from work when a drunk driver runs a red light and T-bones you, causing serious injuries. You are taken via ambulance to the ER, from the ER to the operating room and you get surgery. Currently you have a right to a judgment against the other driver for all of your medical treatment, even though you had little choice about what it is or whether you will have surgery. The at fault driver is fully responsible for the treatment under laws that date back for centuries.
Under Mr. Hood’s proposed bill the drunk driver gets to second guess your own doctors in the ER, surgery, and all followup care. If passed, his bill would allow the drunk driver’s attorney (Picked by an insurance company) to argue evidence to the jury that you were overcharged. The new defense would be that your doctors should have charged way less; that they gouged you with bills too high for work not necessary.
The defense (insurance) attorney for the drunk driver would get to call other doctors and healthcare providers to question your doctors medical decisions related to the necessity of and the reasonableness of their bills. Mr. Hood’s bill would actually force your attorney to hire more expert witnesses to vouch for the necessity and cost of the care you got. If the jury finds the care was unnecessary or too expensive, you still would owe the money to your doctor, but the drunk driver would not have to pay as much. Instead of focusing on the drunk driver, the defense attorney will ask a jury to refocus on what he claims your doctor overcharged you. How good can that be for your doctor-patient relationship?
Bottom line: The insurance company for the at fault driver gets a potential windfall in savings in the amount of your medical bills, but you would still have to pay your own doctors bills regardless.
You should demand more from your politicians. No doubt the insurance industry will claim the “savings” will be passed along to reduce insurance premiums.